Sunday, April 26, 2009
Understanding the News about Swine Flu - Dr. Anthony Ferrara
Swine Flu has become a major topic on the news in the last week. So, I wanted to make sure that our patients and community members have some good and useful information on it.
The main point to make is that so far, it is well contained in the US, the majority of people infected by it are doing well, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are on top of it along with state and local health agencies.
Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person also. The CDC has determined that this version of Swine Flu is contagious and is spreading from human to human.
However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people. In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation. There have been under 20 confirmed cases so far in the U.S.
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. These symptoms come on fairly quickly within a few hours. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with this strain of Swine Flu as well. Like seasonal flu, Swine Flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Like seasonal flu, Swine Flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through the coughing or sneezing of the airborne virus particle from infected people.
The CDC recommends the use of Oseltamivir ( Tamiflu) or Zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these Swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
People with Swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to 7 days following the onset of illness. Children, especially younger children, might be contagious for longer periods.
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against Swine Flu.
There are actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Regardless of what's happening in the news around the world, you should take these everyday steps to protect your health:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
* See your Doctor regularly and make sure you get a Flu shot in the Fall to help fight off typical Human influenza.
If you get sick with influenza, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
If you become sick with any illness and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care immediately.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
* Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Severe or persistent vomiting
All of the news about Swine Flu can leave you feeling nervous or overwhelmed. The best thing you can ever do is keep yourself educated, keep you and your family healthy and rest assured that your medical community is looking out for you.
Posted by North Atlanta Urgent Care