Hospitals and the Novel H1N1 Outbreak: The Mouse That Roared?

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With so much effort directed during the past few years toward pandemic influenza preparedness, especially toward H5N1 avian influenza, the rapid emergence of a novel H1N1 (nH1N1) influenza strain was met with a certain matter-of-fact acceptance by hospital and health care planners in April 2009. Emergency planners have long parroted the phrase “not if, but when,” and so it became immediately clear that “when” had reared its head again. Yet, as mortality rates and epidemiology became clearer, the sense of urgency declined in many health care–related agencies, organizations, and facilities. As pandemics go, this seemed to be a mouse among lions.