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Public Health Professor Explores Hype Surrounding H1N1 Virus

One of dozens of faculty presentations at UAlbany Community Day Oct. 10

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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Sudden fever is a symptom of H1N1 flu

In our media-intense world, hype surrounding the H1N1 pandemic is almost impossible to avoid.

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 2, 2009) -- The H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, has been a staple of media reports and public health alerts for more than a year. As of the week of Sept. 20, reports of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) were on the rise in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of the states in the U.S. reported geographically widespread influenza activity, 11 states reported regional influenza activity, and 12 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity. An estimated 10,000 hospitalizations and more than 900 deaths have been attributed to H1N1. However, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) remains below the epidemic threshold, and health workers are encouraged that an H1N1 vaccine will soon be widely available.

In "H-1, N-1, B-Ready" Ed Waltz presents a jargon-free, layman-friendly examination of one of the principal public health concerns in the nation on Oct. 10, 1 p.m. at UAlbany Community Day. The talk, which is free and open to the general public, will be presented in the Earth Science building on the main campus, room 242.

Waltz, director of the University at Albany's Center for Public Health Preparedness and a professor of public health, points out that in our media-intense world, hype surrounding the H1N1 pandemic is almost impossible to avoid.  He takes a not-too-serious look at the facts -- what to tune in and what to tune out, what you need to know to protect yourself and your family, and the public health issues that should be attracting our attention.

Waltz will explore the origins of "H1N1," the moniker for the virus, and answer questions such as "Iíve had the flu before, why do I need to be vaccinated again?" The session will emphasize why is important to neither overstate nor understate the personal and public health risks presented by the virus.

"H-1, N-1, B-Ready" is among a plethora of activities on UAlbany Community Day, designed to showcase the Universityís academic and cultural strengths. The Day -- which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- will boast faculty presentations on topics ranging from the historical significance of the Battle of Saratoga to nanotechnology; interactive student step dancing, salsa and belly dancing demonstrations; a farmerís market; bomb-sniffing dog and sheepherding exhibitions; and a faculty meet and greet.

UAlbany Community Day is part of the Universityís Homecoming/Family and Reunion Weekend, which features an alumni luncheon honoring activist Harvey Milk, í51, a speech by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and a lecture by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.

Istvan Kecskes
UAlbany Faculty

For UAlbany linguist and teacher Istvan Kecskes, the world is his classroom.

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