Is It H1N1 Swine Flu, Doc?
H1N1 Swine Flu Driving Surge in U.S. Doctor Visits
Those who do go to their doctor with flu-like symptoms won't have to wait for the test results. People who are seriously ill, or those with risk factors or underlying conditions that put them at risk of bad outcomes, will get treatment with Tamiflu or Relenza. Doctors will keep an eye on healthy people with mild symptoms but likely will not treat them with antiviral drugs, as most people recover fully from the new flu in a week or so.
Although the new flu bug is spreading quickly, the good news so far is that it remains a relatively mild flu bug. The key word here is "relative."
A new study of the new bug's spread in Mexico suggests that illness caused by the new bug is less severe than the illness caused by the bug that caused the 1918 flu pandemic and about the same as the flu bug that caused the 1957 pandemic.
The 1918 bug killed at least 675,000 people in the U.S. and up to 50 million people worldwide. The 1957 bug wasn't that bad -- but it killed 70,000 in the U.S. and up to 2 million people worldwide.
And, today the WHO said the new virus appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu virus.
There's still hope that the new H1N1 flu will fizzle out. But neither Schuchat and her CDC colleagues nor the World Health Organization is betting on that. The reason: The first wave of the 1918 flu was mild, too.