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I 19 June 2009
Influenza A H1 N1 is a Pandemic, WHO
On June 11, World Health Organization raised its
global pandemic alert level for the new Influenza
A H1N1 to Phase 6, the highest pandemic phase.
Sustained community transmission of the new influenza
virus has been confirmed in more than one WHO region
and a global pandemic is now been officially.
Every one needs to know the symptoms
and how the disease is spread so
WHO however stressed that the change in phase does
avoid infection and enable early
not reflect the severity of th eillness that it causes, but
management of suspected cases.
rather it reflects the geographical spread of the virus.
In April, the World Health Organization’s Director General declared Influenza A H1N1 virus an international public
health emergency following the outbreak of the disease in Mexico and United States. Subsequently, on 29 April, the
WHO raised the pandemic alert to level 5 because of the widespread human infection reported.
The WHO update of 15 June reports that 76 countries have officially reported cases of Influenza A H1N1. Egypt is
the first African country to report a confirmed case of the disease.
Influenza A H1N1 is a novel virus that combines aspects of the Avian, Swine and Human Influenza virus. The spread
and symptoms are similar to of season influenza.
The threat of spread of the disease to the Africa region is real, but there is no reason to panic. While there currently
is no vaccine against the disease, prevention is reasonably easy through hygiene practices. Also, some people who
are infected have recovered without requiring medical attention. Every one needs to know the symptoms and how
the disease is spread so avoid infection and enable early management of suspected cases.
Since the announcement of the pandemic alert, the UN has been monitoring the situation very closely. Under
the leadership of WHO, the UN is working with the Government through the Ministry of Health to strengthen the
country’s surveillance so that any suspected cases are detected early and handled accordingly. The UN is assisting
the government with Tamiflu (the drug for treatment), protective gear, public awareness and assessment and
training of staff at airport and other border entry points and medical personnel in central hospitals.
The UN family has also revised its own medical and contingency plans and has adequate stock of the drugs to treat
any cases reported by staff as well as protective equipment.
What you must know about Influenza A H1 N1
‡ Season Influenza is caused by a virus that is passed easily from person to person (Influenza A), most often when
people cough or sneeze. Usually, the virus infects mainly the upper respiratory tract, the nose, throat, and
bronchi but in severe cases, the virus can spread to the lungs.
‡ Most people recover within one or two weeks without the need for medical treatment, however for the very
young, the elderly, and those suffering from certain medical conditions, influenza can pose a serious risk to
health and can result in other complications such as pneumonia and even death.
‡ Influenza A H1 N1 virus spreads in the same way as seasonal influenza, mostly from person to person through
coughing and sneezing and when people touch surfaces with the virus and touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
‡ The symptoms of Influenza A H1 N1 are similar to those of regular human seasonal influenza infection and
include: high fever, tiredness, lack of appetite, cough, headache, running nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Some people suffer sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue.
‡ This can lead to a severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and in some cases death.
‡ How to prevent transmission: Cover nose and mouth with tissue when coughing and sneezing. Wash hands
often with soap and water (especially after coughing, sneezing or shaking hands). Avoid touching eyes, nose or
mouth and avoid close contact with a sick person.
‡ If you have high fever, cough or sore throat: Stay at home and keep away from crowded places. You need to rest
and take plenty of fluids. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and through away any tissues.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
‡ Diagnosis and Treatment:
A laboratory test is required to confirm the virus. The disease is treated by antiviral
medicines oseltamivir (Tamiflu) which is only prescribed by a medical doctor.
The World Health Organization issues regular updates on the spread and treatment of the diseases. Visit www.who.
int or the UN Staff Pandemic page http://www.un.org/staff/pandemic or consult the UN Doctor if you have more
Nkhani Zathu (Our News) monthly Newsletter and Bulletin Board are hosted on www.unmalawi.org and can be downloaded as PDF
copies. The e-bulletins are compiled by UN Communication Group and capture highlights of the UN Malawi in action. The publications
will share events and developments within the UN and in Malawi as well as gloabl events of interest.
For subscription, editorial policy or printing request, please contact email Editor.Newsletter@unmalawi.org. We invite contributions
on experiences and events, putting a face to numbers, facts, figures to often drawn out UN-speak. You can contribute to the journal
by submitting your articles or suggestions to a member of UNCG or write to Editor.Newsletter@unmalawi.org.
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