By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that there is concern over a form of Influenza called Swine Flu: a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A Influenza normally found in pigs. While it normally does not affect humans, human infections do occur.
There may be as many as 40 human infections from 10 states across the U.S. Of concern are a few confirmed cases of a new strain of Swine Flu A (H1N1). Laboratory testing has found this strand responds favorably to two antiviral drugs and has issued guidance to healthcare officials on how to use them. There are antidotal reports that the prescription drug Tamiflu will fight the virus. However, I have not seen reports from official medical agencies on this—Check with your doctor.
What can you do to stay healthy?
Be courteous, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after use. If you don’t have a tissue, cough in your coat sleeve to prevent the spread of viral particles.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also work. TIP: After washing hands, use the paper towel used to dry your hand to open doors from the bathroom and your office.
Wipe down your phone receiver with an alcohol-base wet wipe (doesn’t hurt to wipe your computer keypad and mouse either).
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
Avoid crowded areas. If you are coming down with something but must ride in a bus or plane, wear a surgical mask made to help contain viral particles (will cost more, but will help). TIP: If you are sick but must care for children, wear one before coming in close contact with them.
If you get sick, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
When Should I or My Family See A Doctor?
Children Should See A Doctor When
High fever (above 103 degrees), or a fever that lasts for more than 3 days
Symptoms that last for more than 10 days
Trouble breathing, fast breathing or wheezing
Bluish skin color
Earache or drainage from the ear
Changes in mental state (such as not waking up, irritability or seizures)
Flu-like symptoms that improve, but return with a fever and a worse cough
Worsening of a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes or heart disease)
Vomiting or abdominal pain
Adults Should See A Doctor When
A high, prolonged fever (above 102 degrees) with fatigue and achiness
Symptoms that last for more than 10 days or get worse instead of better
Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest
Fainting or feeling like you are about to faint
Confusion or disorientation
Severe or persistent vomiting
Severe sinus pain in your face or forehead
Very swollen glands in the neck or jaw
You’re undoubtedly seeing a lot of sensationalistic articles and blogs about a Pandemic. Keep this in mind, while the outbreak in Mexico is cause for concern (81 deaths related to the Swine Flu virus and more than 1300 reported cases), the people stricken with this in the US are (at the time of this post) recovering without incident—there is no need for alarm.
If you are really concerned, check with your doctor and develop a course of action, now, for you and your family. Good questions to ask are: Have there been any cases reported in your area? What drugs work to prevent the disease/treat it? Do you have adequate stores of them? Since symptoms resemble the flu, when should I see you? Also, don’t forget to ask your doctor to help you identify family members that might be more at risk of catching Swine Flu or it might be harder on due to certain risk factors (young children, elderly, immune deficiency, etc.).
Following are a list of links with credible information on this situation:
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control