Luckily for us

Vaccination, antivirals and social distancing may blunt impact of H1N1 influenza:
[Via EurekAlert! – Infectious and Emerging Diseases]

(Canadian Medical Association Journal) The relatively low number of new cases created by a single case of H1N1 influenza indicates that mitigation strategies such as vaccination, social distancing and the use of antiviral drugs may help to lessen the final impact of the virus, suggests an epidemiological modeling study reported in CMAJ.

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The really interesting number for me from this paper is the reproduction number. It is a measure of how many other people get the disease from a single person with the infection. It has to be greater than 1 for any disease to spread. For measles, the number is 12-18.

For H1N1, it appears to be 1.3. This is just about as low as one can find in any spreading disease. With a number this low, efforts such as vaccination and social distancing can work well. Estimates of the reproductive number for the flu pandemic in 1919 are closer to 4.

We would be in much greater peril if H1N1 was nearly as contagious as the 1919 pandemic. We might not be as lucky next time.

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