In what may be a sign of things to come in this country, Britain is reporting 100,000 new cases of swine flu recorded in the last week. Of those cases, 840 have been hospitalized and 63 in intensive case.
The situation is getting so bad that one patient has been sent to Sweden because of a lack of beds.
The WHO has stopped tracking swine flu cases and deaths around the world. Still, it is has asked countries to be on the look out for "unexpected clusters of severe or fatal cases of H1N1 or "unexpected, unusual or notable changes in patterns of transmission" (WHO Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 3, 7/16).
One such notable event may be occuring in Mexico where it appears they are seeing a bit of a reurgence of the swine flu. Several states in southern Mexico have seen massive increases in swine flu infections in the past few weeks. H/T H5N1
Another notable event is a sharp increase in hospitalizations in Australia. Once again being tracked by H5N1, probably one of the best swine flu blogs out there and conveniently provided in the Swine Flu blogroll on the left column of this blog.
As if this weren't enough we are being told to expect shortages of any possible vaccine as the viruses aren't producing large quantities of active ingredient. (WSJ)
This virus is already acting different than other flu viruses. It has not tapered off in the summer months as most viruses do. Though not expected at this time, worst case scenarios suggest the possiblity that 40% of American workers could be affected.
Of course ultimately, these are only guesses. Perhaps the best advice is to "hope for the best and plan for the worst." This is common sense of course and good advice in any situations, be they medical, or weather or man made disasters.
Toward this end I offer this advice from Avian flu Diary:
The HHS’s Flu.gov website offers this advice on preparing for a pandemic:
You can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. You should know both the magnitude of what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family. This checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.
To plan for a pandemic:
Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.
Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.
Given the current virulence of the novel H1N1 virus, having 2-weeks worth of supplies on hand is probably sufficient. And two-weeks is also a reasonable amount of supplies to have on hand to weather practically any other major disaster.