The H1N1 flu infection has been on a downward slide since its unseasonable spike during the heat of August and early September. But doctors and public health officials warn that it is possible swine flu could break out again and, at the very least, we’ll be looking at an unprecedented two-pronged flu season: an early H1N1-caused flu season followed by the seasonal flu as the mercury drops.
“What we’re all seeing is that we have a really strong possibility of having two flu seasons,” said Metro Health Department spokesman Brian Todd.
After reporting, at one point, more than a hundred people showing up at Vanderbilt University outpatient clinics with flu-like symptoms during one day in September, the numbers have been trending downward. VUMC reported only five such cases Tuesday. Todd says the flu season graphs like Batman’s cowl: Two sharp spikes at the beginning of each year, in between which is a fairly flat line.
This year the spike came in August and is now declining. However, this spike has a spur, potentially indicating that swine flu is down but not out.
An untouched basket of tinder that could fuel the next outbreak can be found in Nashville’s colleges, which at this point have remained relatively unscathed — a befuddling H1N1 behavioral quirk that has left some Vanderbilt doctors scratching their heads.
“They’re all ripe for the picking,” says Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt preventive medicine professor. “If H1N1 managed to gain entry into the college population, we could have another large flair of H1N1 and you’d see that curve go right back up again.”
Though Metro Health has exhausted its supply of injectable vaccine, FluMist is still available. Todd says he does expect a re-supply. This dearth, however, doesn’t mean the vaccine is unavailable. It can still be obtained through your doctor.