Year One of H1N1 Showed System's Effectiveness, Frieden Says

Influenza activity remains low, but the CDC director warns a resurgence is still possible. Almost 17,800 deaths worldwide have been attributed to H1N1, WHO says.

This week marks a full year since H1N1 influenza was first identified. It rapidly became a major international concern for health experts and reached official pandemic status. In brief remarks posted Monday at www.flu.gov, CDC's director, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said one year ago, CDC "kicked into overdrive to isolate and identify the virus, send vaccine candidate strains for vaccine production, distribute tools to help doctors in the United States and around the world diagnose the virus, and help craft a national response strategy to protect the American public from this pandemic virus."

Orders for protective respirators surged. Employers were counseled to make contingency plans to continue operating even if 30 percent of their workers were absent because of the flu. Vaccine makers hurried to develop vaccines. H1N1 activity remains low, but WHO said as of April 11, 2010, 17,798 deaths attributed to laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 had been recorded.

Frieden's statement thanks the health care providers who administered vaccinations and mentions the communications strategy created to inform and instruct the American people about how to protect themselves. "We pushed to the limits of our current technology in these areas and were very effective," it says. "That success would not have been possible without the vital assistance of our state, local, and community partners. The efforts of thousands of CDC employees and other healthcare professionals have helped reduce the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from this virus.

"As we enter spring and CDC, U.S. healthcare providers, and the American people gear up for the start of the 2010-2011 flu season, we must remain vigilant against a resurgence of 2009 H1N1. At the same time, we must work toward enhanced disease surveillance, more timely vaccine availability, and stronger support for local health partners such as public clinics, schools, and other community institutions. We have much to do, but the past season has shown how effective our public health system can be when it is supported and mobilized."

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