Latest reports from the CDC indicate that H1N1 flu activity in the U.S. is low; it is elevated in only one region, the Southeast. The CDC estimates that there are wide ranges in the numbers of people affected, hospitalized cases and deaths, with mid-level estimates of 59 million affected, 265,000 hospitalized cases and 12,000 deaths. Most of the people who have been hospitalized had underlying conditions that increased their risk of developing complications, such as asthma, diabetes, heart or neurologic disease or were pregnant. However, the CDC encourages all people who are concerned to get vaccinated, as flu outbreaks typically occur from November through the end of April.
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 and HHS 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 at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created the Web site: www.flu.gov, to provide information on H1N1, avian and pandemic flu.
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 at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/recommendations.htm
HIV/AIDS and H1N1
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 at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance_HIV.htm
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 try to keep the community informed of any new developments.