CANCUN, Mexico Delivering the keynote speech at a high-level meeting on influenza H1N1 on Thursday, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, suggested that early reports out of the Southern Hemisphere around the severity of the H1N1 pandemic are positive.
“We are still seeing a largely reassuring clinical picture,” she said. “The overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a full recovery within a week, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment. Research published last week confirms that this pattern, in which most patients experience mild influenza-like illness, has also been seen in Mexico.”
Most cases of severe and fatal infection continue to occur in people with underlying medical conditions. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of complications, she said. “But there are some exceptions that must be the focus of particular concern,” she added. “For reasons that are poorly understood, some deaths are occurring in perfectly healthy young people. Moreover, some patients experience a very rapid clinical deterioration, leading to severe, life-threatening viral pneumonia that requires mechanical ventilation.”