UK government unloads 5.5 million text messages, calls in the troops to combat flu outbreak

Weeks after an influenza pandemic swept through the world, scientists in the United Kingdom are saying they have seen some resilience in the country’s population. Worldwide an estimated 40,000 to 200,000 people died and some 300,000 were hospitalized between April and July 1918. Of that total, estimates suggest about 25,000 to 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom.

To prepare for another such pandemic, the UK National Health Service launched its National Influenza Network (NIN), linking departments and researchers. But last week, the organization halted all surveillance and testing at the moment — in order to expand research in low-tech medical protocols like rapid cold-pressed nasal and mouth washings — after noticing a health scare that some simply cannot remember from 1918: the flu that has stopped Virgin airlines in their tracks.

Virgin’s planes have returned to their normal flight schedule since the flu scare, according to CNN, but the government has sent out more than 800,000 text messages to alert the UK’s 5.5 million population of the national emergency.

A vaccine crisis looms over the UK, as National Health Service health data shows this season’s H3N2 influenza strain making up 96 percent of the shots. Last season, the strain made up only 56 percent of inoculations. Two people have died of flu over the last few weeks, and no deaths have been reported since the outbreak. But the change in which strain is the most prevalent adds to the difficulty of administering vaccines in England.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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