Here is my top 5 list of what I've learned from this pandemic.
1. Government & CDC has not given us timely information. I have had to rely on MSNBC.com and other online news sites to find out about research into the vaccine, safety of the vaccine,etc. I and all physicians should have been getting regular letters or emails about the new information on this virus,treatment and prevention. For example, I knew early in July that the standard nasal test kit for influenza would not reliably detect H1N1 and I stopped using it. By the end of July the CDC reported that their testing of this type of nasal test had revealed it totally undependable to detect H1N1. Yet across the country many doctors and ER's (like our own in Liberal) still use this test to decide if they should treat a patient for H1N1. This has been devastating for some people.
2. It takes only one person to die in a community before people get very interested in getting the vaccine. The recent death of Larry Howell in Liberal from H1N1 pneumonia has gotten a lot of people wanting the vaccine for H1N1 now. I have not seen the same increase in interest from any campaign run by government or CDC to get the country vaccinated.
3. Far more people are dying from H1N1 than I have ever seen die from seasonal flu. I don't recall a year in my 37 years of medical practice in which so many people died from the usual seasonal flu as from H1N1. Although CDC officially says over 20,000 people have died in the US so far from H1N1, they claim the regular flu kills over 100,000 people per year in the US. I question the basis for this last claim. If in fact 100,000 people die of the yearly flu in the US, they must have all come from somewhere other than southwest Kansas.
4. Tamiflu is the best treatment we have, if taken early enough. I have seen 100% of the people I have given Tamiflu since July get better in 48 hours or less. There is no sign of resistance to this drug from H1N1 yet. If taken early enough by the first victim in a household, I have also seen little if any spread to other family members.
5. It is possible to easily diagnose H1N1 and other flu infections without the use nasal test kits. As I said in #1, I have not used a nasal test kit on any patients since July yet I have not missed diagnosing any of my patients with H1N1 so far.
Please add your own discoveries in the comment section.