In 2009, the World Health Organization classified the H1N1 strain of influenza, more commonly referred to as swine flu, as a Phase 6 pandemic, the highest rating possible for such a virus. Thankfully, the pandemic only lasted slightly longer than one year, with the WHO declaring the pandemic over in August 2010.
If Australia has any impact on WHO classifications, however, that pandemic label may be returning to the swine flu soon...
So far this year, 21,000 cases of swine flu have been reported in Australia - more than double of the amount reported at this time last year, according to the Influenza Specialist Group (ISG).
The ISG reports that around 20 to 50 percent of children will acquire the flu each season, with only 10 to 30 percent of adults suffering from the same fate. However, mothers tend to be specifically susceptible to the flu in Australia, most likely due to the constant contact with children and the large amounts of stress mothers face everyday, weakening the immune system.
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) August 12, 2014
In fact, women are more susceptible than men, overall, to contract the sickness. The numbers show that females are 25 percent more likely to acquire the virus than men. One of the reasons this phenomenon may be so apparent in Australia is due to the fact that 70 percent of women in "The Land Down Under" are not vaccinated against the flu.
Because of the dearth of people actually vaccinated against the flu, scientists and health professionals, including ISG chairman Dr Alan Hampson, are urging Australians to get vaccinated while there is still a chance for the immunity to take hold:
If they haven't been infected yet it's never too late but there might be a very narrow window. I think people do need a while to acquire immunity. If they're in a high-risk group or people who can't afford to be infected then it's worth while getting along to your GP and I'd suggest no later than this week.
Dr. Hampson also stressed to not simply rely upon over-the-counter medicine to alleviate one's aches and pains: "They're not really having an impact in the infection in your body, they're just suppressing the symptoms. So you really shouldn't take those and then soldier on. It only stresses your body."
And, as always, wash your hands and avoid the source - large crowds of people.
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