Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NYTimes: Europe Offers Vaccinations to Contain Swine Flu

Anxiety over the new swine flu strain may have eased over the summer, but millions of Europeans will soon receive a sharp reminder of its virulence as governments prepare for a large-scale vaccination effort aimed at keeping a second, and possibly deadlier, wave of infections at bay.

With another surge in cases of the H1N1 flu expected as soon as September, medical experts say the battle to tame the first pandemic flu in four decades is just getting under way in Europe.

European Union health officials emphasize that most human cases of the flu have been mild and that patients have recovered without special treatment.

In another sign of normalcy, a committee of European Union health officials recommended last week that schools reopen as usual after the summer break.

But with limited amounts of vaccines expected to become available this year, health authorities are girding for many more cases over the autumn and winter flu season, when viruses spread more easily.

“If we get a lot more infections, then there will be a lot more complications in people’s medical conditions and that means a lot more deaths,” said Nigel Dimmock, an emeritus professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Warwick in England nd a flu expert.

The global pattern of the virus’s spread indicated that “the pandemic is just beginning” in Europe, said Nikki Shindo, a spokeswoman on influenza for the W.H.O.

NYTimes: Europe Offers Vaccinations to Contain Swine Flu