Prompt 1: Why is influenza such a complex virus to deal with? How do agencies deal with this challenge? What are the lessons learned from the H1N1 US experience?
Influenza is dynamic and complex disease that is easily transmitted and subject to mutation. It is challenging to inoculate or vaccinate for these reasons. In this case, H1N1 influenza was first laboratory-confirmed in Mexico of February and March of 2009 (Fineberg M.D., Ph.D., 2014). It was a variant of a precursor disease identified as H5N1 years earlier (Cuadra Ph.D, 2022). Health models and codes vary from nation to nation which helps enable influenza to transmit more easily making it more difficult for the CDC and WHO to control the spread of the disease. One method agency’s use to help monitor and track data in epidemics and pandemics is via mapping. The CDC and WHO are then able to provide aid and relief to the most heavily affected communities (Fineberg M.D., Ph.D., 2014). Some valuable lessons learned from the H1N1 influenza outbreak were the need to plan for more general outbreak scenarios (Cuadra Ph.D, 2022). Cooperation between private and public health agencies in conjunction with schools and businesses will assist with recovering from outbreaks. Also, having a pre-existing influenza surveillance system will aid in being prepared for outbreaks (Cuadra Ph.D, 2022). With the value in learning from these lessons and mapping influenza data health organizations can then focus on recommended vaccine target groups and slow the spread before it gets too out of control or carried away (Fineberg M.D., Ph.D., 2014). From a U.S. perspective, the most concerning vulnerabilities seem to be social and political. Wading through bureaucratic red tape (so to speak) sometimes bottle necks the process and slows it down. Cooperation amongst public and private health organizations is crucial in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from viral disasters.
Cuadra Ph.D, J. (2022). H1N1 Video Lecture. Tallahassee: https://canvas.fsu.edu/courses/188584/pages/h1n1-video-lecture?module_item_id=3572354.
Fineberg M.D., Ph.D., H. V. (2014). Pandemic Preparedness and Response — . T h e n e w e n g l a n d j o u r n a l o f m e d i c i n e , 1335-1342.