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Editorial: H1N1 flu threat is far from ending

There are positive reports this week the H1N1 novel influenza outbreak is easing somewhat across Minnesota and the rest of the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that cases of H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, were down in most regions of the United States.

This is good news.

Initial H1N1 flu vaccine supplies were being shipped to counties across the state, also. Local health authorities will soon start announcing vaccination clinics for priority groups. As the vaccine supply increases, additional groups will be targeted for the vaccine.

This also is good news.

However, there is some bad news, too.

The deaths of 21 children last week were linked to H1N1 flu.

West central Minnesota and the rest of the country cannot get complacent in regard to the flu. If that happens, people could lose interest in being vaccinated, which in turn could create another wave of H1N1 infections.

Health authorities also expect a third wave of H1N1 infections in December and January.

Historically, both the 1918 and 1957 flu outbreaks had a mild spring pattern, followed by two stronger waves in the fall and mid-winter.

Individuals and families should remember that the flu outbreak of 2009 is not over. Follow the basic rules: wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home if you are sick.

A little precaution will go a long ways this flu season.