WHO recommends quick H1N1 treatment, even before test results

In most situations, you wouldn't hear a public health body encouraging providers to treat an illness before they had officially confirmed that a patient actually had that illness. But in this case, that's just what the World Health Organization is doing.

The WHO is recommending that patients with swine flu symptoms and pneumonia get quick antiviral treatment, even if H1N1 tests aren't complete. The reason is that while most people don't get very sick from H1N1, some young adults--particularly women--are getting seriously ill far more often than expected. These patients are turning up in ICUs, and dying far more often than expected, researchers say. They suspect that the faster pace of deaths happens in part because the virus can penetrate the lungs and cause viral pneumonia.

Meanwhile, public health professionals worry over the continued shortage of vaccines. The CDC announced the number of H1N1 vaccine doses to arrive in the U.S. by the end of October would be about 10 million short, or about 25 percent fewer than expected, due to slower than anticipated vaccine production.

To learn more about this trend:
- here's the WHO's recommendation
- read this Washington Post piece
- check out this Los Angeles Times article

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