The end of swine flu?

Word on Health breathed a big sigh of relief earlier this week when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the official end of the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.

According to WHO the virus has largely run its course and we are now in the “post-pandemic period.” In other words, the virus is now expected to take on the behavior of the seasonal flu virus.

Does that mean we can expect to see few people wearing surgical masks in airplanes and on the Metro?  Will it be safe to leave our homes and desks without our bottles of hand sanitizer?

Can we revise our infectious disease presentations once again and consign H1N1 to the box of viruses of former concern, along with Ebola and SARS?

Was all the fuss worth it?

Responding to concerns that the agency acted too hastily in declaring a pandemic  last June, the WHO said it was “the right call.”  WHO Director-General Margaret Chan added that “we have been aided by pure good luck.” Chan noted,  if the virus had mutated then the current death toll of around 18 500 could have been much higher.

For those of you who can’t quite shake off the fear of H1N1, the good news is that the regular 2010 flu shot will contain protection against swine flu too.

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