One billion people worldwide. According to New Scientist, that’s how many people could be infected by H1N1 between now and July.
Despite a week of relative calm in the news regarding H1N1 (swine flu), New Scientist reports that there is new evidence suggesting that the virus is spreading in spite of hot temperatures (which tend to slow seasonal flu viruses). The virus is also taking on characteristics akin to the 1918 pandemic that ultimately killed 60 million people worldwide. If the New Scientist article is a harbinger of things to come, expect the pandemic story to come roaring back in the next few weeks.
New data from Mexico and case numbers so far suggest that if the spread of H1N1 “swine flu” continues elsewhere as it has in the Americas, the virus could infect more than a billion people by July.
The data also suggests that the virus may not be slowed by summer temperatures in temperate countries.
If you’ve stopped washing your hands frequently, and taking sensible precautions, maybe you had better resume the practice. The more people who get infected, the more chances the virus has of mutating and taking on greater virulence.