Friday, June 26, 2009

WHO: H1N1 Virus Is Stable


The World Health Organization is now saying that the H1N1 virus is becoming stable.

The virus also known as Swine Flu has not mixed with other influenza viruses. Many health officials were worried that this virus would mix with H5N1 (Bird Flu).

"The virus is still very stable," WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan told reporters at a news briefing in Moscow when asked if there were any signs of the virus mixing with other strains such as avian flu.

"But as we all know the influenza virus is highly unpredictable and has great potential for mutation," Chan said after meeting Russian Health Minister Tatyana Golikova.

Chan's remarks are some of the first comments by the WHO leadership since the United Nations agency declared an influenza pandemic on June 11.

Chan said the viruses needed to be closely monitored to make sure there was no mutation.

"We would need to look at how they are behaving in southern hemisphere countries to see whether the H1N1 and the usual seasonal influenza virus would reassort. So far we have not detected any signal," she said.

"Another important thing we need to monitor is H1N1 and H5N1, which is endemic in some countries in Asia and the Middle East. We would like to see whether there will be any change," she said. "Again, we did not detect any signal that there is any reassortment."

Chan, a straight-talking native of Hong Kong, said that while much effort was being expended on seeking vaccines, common sense measures could still reduce risks of being infected.

"In prevention and reducing the risk of this infection there is of course a lot of attention given to antivirals and vaccines. But we must not forget there are what we call non pharmaceutical measures which are very effective," she said.

"These are simple measures that each individual can take to protect themselves: don't smoke, get enough rest, eat a balanced diet to support a high level of immunity and frequent washing hands with water and soap."

"If you do unfortunately get infected, please do go to see a doctor."

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