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Hannibal To Hold H1N1 Flu Public Meeting

The H1N1 flu virus.
The H1N1 flu virus.

Hannibal will begin the new school year with a public meeting on the H1N1 virus.

The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 9 in the high school auditorium.

The district intends to share its plan for communicating to the community during the expected outbreak of H1N1 this fall and winter. It will also outline the steps being taken at school to lessen the spread of the virus and give parents some ideas on how to protect their children from the flu.

Students do not have to come to the meeting. The district says students will hear about the flu issue in school.

H1N1, inaccurately called Swine Flu, is an unusual strain of flu, made up of several older strains. There is no vaccine yet for the flu, though a vaccine is expected to be available by October, likely after the coming outbreak has hit its peak. Emergency health care workers are likely to be the first to get the vaccine.

Experts tend to believe that the virus is no more deadly and perhaps a little less deadly than other flu viruses. However, H1H1 spreads much more easily, leading to larger estimates of illnesses and deaths. Children have no immunity from H1N1 and the virus tends to affect the young more than the old, who are less able to fight off the effects of flu.

One estimate from a White House panel, intended to mark the most extreme end of possibilities, put potential deaths at 30,000 or more. The federal Centers for Disease Control believes the number will be much smaller. However, this virus reminds scientists of a very deadly outbreak in 1918, in which a small wave of infections happened in the spring and a massive wave of infections and deaths occured in the fall.

Schools are being particularly cautious because they are places for the easy spread of the H1N1 virus. Most schools are adopting aggressive plans to disinfect schools daily and to make sure students wash their hands regularly.

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