Health experts warn against complacency in fighting viruses

While surveillance is important, “prevention really is the thing we have to go for in the future,” said Albert Osterhaus, a virologist at the University of Rotterdam in The Netherlands.

Osterhaus was among some 8,000 experts attending the opening day of the 20th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) which runs through Tuesday in Vienna.

The Dutch virologist said he was concerned that since the H1N1/A virus, or swine flu, epidemic has somewhat subsided countries have might let down their guard against spreading viruses.

“My worry is that we have become a little complacent because of this so-called ‘wimpy’ flu, that we start to forget about the H5N1,” referring to the often more dangerous bird flu virus.

and  a reason to get your shots next year, too:

The ECCMID experts warned that seasonal flu in the year after a flu pandemic is generally stronger than in the preceding years because it has been reinforced by new genetic material, and therefore requires national health departments to be more vigilant during flu season.

It’s an observation, not a guarantee. H1N1 vaccination was variable by region, and H1N1 childhood vaccination ranged from 84.7% in RI to 21.3% in GA. We need to do better next year and every year.

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United States
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