News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org


World Health Organization declares Pandemic Phase 6 for Novel H1N1 Flu
Health department, community partners preparing response to reduce “second wave” illness


(June 12, 2009) Local public health officials say the World Health Organization’s declaration of a worldwide pandemic will not significantly change their response to the H1N1 virus.

“Our response to the Novel H1N1 Virus was aggressive from the very first case reported in the U.S. in April,” said Carol Paxton, Director of Emergency Preparedness for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “When it became clear the virus could not be contained, we worked with our community partners—hospitals, schools, government, and so on—to launch our response plans. In our mobile society, viruses can spread very quickly as people travel from one part of the country to another, or from downstate Michigan to the north.”

“We know H1N1 is firmly established in our state,” said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Health Department Medical Director. “So far, nearly everyone in Michigan who has been ill with the virus has recovered. Still, we could see more illness, more hospitalizations, and more deaths from H1N1.”

“We’re asking people to ‘fast forward’ to the fall and think about what they will do if the second wave of H1N1 turns out to be severe,” said Paxton. “It’s always a good idea to have a Family Preparedness Kit ready in case you’re homebound. We all know you can’t ignore the flu when it hits your house. With a well-stocked kit ready you can stay home for a few days, either because you are sick or you want to avoid others who are sick.” Directions for compiling a Family Preparedness Kit are at www.ready.gov, she said.

H1N1 is affecting far more young people than seasonal flu, Meyerson said. “57% of H1N1 cases across the country are in children and young adults. 41% of individuals hospitalized are in the 5 to 24 age bracket. The good news is older people, who are more vulnerable to seasonal flu, do not seem as susceptible to H1N1.”

The CDC says you have a role in protecting yourself and your family members from influenza viruses and other communicable diseases:

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, see your health care provider. He/she may recommend anti-viral medications.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about public health’s response to the H1N1 pandemic, contact Paxton at 547-6523.


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