By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
The number of people afflicted with the H1N1 virus is continuing to rise in America and around the world, with a more severe “rerun” outbreak predicted for next winter.
Here are the current H1N1 flu numbers from the WHO (as of Friday 5/22):
-6,552 cases and 9 deaths in the U.S.
-11,000 cases and 86 deaths worldwide
-H1N1 diagnosed in U.S. soldiers stationed in Kuwait
-WHO “poised to declare a full pandemic”
Unlike more conventional flu strains, where the elderly are among the demographics most severely affected, the H1N1 virus, so far, has done the most damage in children. The predominant theory is that older people seem to have a stronger immunity than usual to this flu, perhaps due to their lifetime of exposure to past strains.
This H1N1 flu has undoubtedly prompted public health officials to assess whether our shrinking supply of physicians will be adequate in treating these outbreaks. In Japan, for instance, a recent survey showed that 16% of the nation’s disease centers have added only one new flu physician to their staff, even in light of the global spread of the H1N1 virus.
Back in the states, while nurse practitioners and physician assistants are doing their best to fill in the staffing gaps, the growing physician shortage has created numerous locum tenens jobs for traveling physicians. Specifically in regards to the H1N1 virus, locum offers assignments in the following specialty areas: general practice, family practice, internal medicine, urgent care, critical care, pediatrics and pediatric critical care (key demographics for this flu strain), emergency medicine and, of course, infectious disease.
For more H1N1 updates visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu. To research available locum job opportunities visit the search box on our home page.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.