Latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that a total of 13,217 cases of swine flu, or H1N1 influenza A, and 27 deaths in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have now been been documented, causing heightened concern for many Americans. The novel virus differs from the seasonal flu virus in that most of the people who have gotten sick are young—5 to 24 years old. It is believed that people born before 1957 have immunity to this virus. In addition, the seasonal flu vaccine available in 2008 offers no immunity to this new virus. Most of the people who have been hospitalized had underlying conditions that increased their risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia.
For the bleeding disorders community, it is important to note that the virus does not pose a threat to the safety of plasma-derived clotting factor products. Influenza is a lipid-enveloped virus that is inactivated by a variety of steps in the manufacturing processes used for all licensed products. In addition, prospective plasma donors who show symptoms of flu during the screening process are deferred from donating. The fact that no case of influenza transmitted by transfusion has been reported in the scientific literature is a strong indicator of the safety of the current system.
CDC Web Info
The CDC has created a Web page with up-to-date information on the H1N1 virus, including prevention information and other guidance. The page can be found from the CDC.
Treatment Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals
The CDC is also providing guidance for healthcare professionals treating individuals who are confirmed to have contracted H1N1 or have been exposed to it. This information can be found from the CDC.
HIV/AIDS and Swine Flu
Experts do not believe that people living with HIV or AIDS are at increased risk for contracting flu. However, individuals with low CD4 cell counts who do contract flu may be at greater risk for complications, including lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Specific information on this subject geared to clinicians is available from the CDC.
Although there are no current supply issues, if H1N1 continues to spread and large numbers of donors are deferred, it is possible that the supply of plasma and products could eventually be affected. NHF will work closely with industry and appropriate government agencies to monitor and address this situation if it becomes an issue.
Flu and You
Individuals who show flu symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care or hemophilia treatment center physician.
NHF will endeavor to keep the community informed of any new developments in the weeks ahead.