The swine flu pandemic

A special issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International contains the first scientific presentation of clinical experience with the novel influenza A virus (H1N1/09) in the German-speaking countries since the start of the pandemic. Ralf Winzer and his coauthors from the Düsseldorf University Hospital retrospectively evaluated data from a large clinical cohort of infected persons in Germany (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106[47]: 770-6). Their medical-scientific article is accompanied by an editorial by the clinical microbiologist Georg Peters of the University of Münster (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106[769]).

The results of the study by Winzer et al. corroborate the initial research findings on the A/H1N1 epidemic. In the initial phase of the pandemic, the disease tended to take a mild course and most infections in the German population were acquired outside the country. Later on, as Peters explains, more severe cases were reported in Germany as well, and most infections with the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus are now being acquired within the country.

In a further, thematically related article, Rafael Mikolajczyk and coauthors explain the principles underlying model calculations of the course of an epidemic. Their article does not contain a direct extrapolation of current data about the novel influenza A virus (H1N1/09), yet it describes the theoretical foundation of calculations that apply to all epidemics, including influenza epidemics.


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