Friday, May 8, 2009

Swine Flu

In recent weeks, cases of swine flu in countries including Mexico, the United States, Canada, Spain, and New Zealand have sparked international headlines and concern about the possibility of a pandemic, the worldwide spread of a disease affecting a large number of people.
But whether swine flu becomes labeled a pandemic or not, there’s no evidence in the United States or countries outside of Mexico that it’s any worse — or more dangerous — than the common seasonal flu.
So there’s no reason to panic. But it is smart to take precautions, like washing your hands often. To put things in perspective, here are some important facts about what’s going on.
About Swine Flu
Swine flu is a contagious respiratory virus that affects pigs year-round. The virus making headlines right now is a new strain of the swine flu, which is an influenza type A (H1N1) virus. This strain contains a combination of different flu viruses that affect pigs, birds, and humans. Because of the human component of the virus, it can spread from person-to-person more easily. Since this is a new strain of flu virus, people who had a flu shot this past winter probably won't be protected against swine flu. However, the virus does appear to respond to treatment with some of the same medicines used to treat common seasonal flu.
How It's Spread
Swine flu spreads in the same way that other flu viruses do — through the air when a person who has the virus sneezes, coughs, or speaks. People can also catch the virus after touching an object that someone with the virus sneezed or coughed on. As with other flu viruses, people who have the virus can be contagious a day or so before their symptoms start, so they can pass it on before they even know they're sick. You can't get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly cooked pork is safe.
When Does an Outbreak become a Pandemic?
In the case of an infectious disease like influenza, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines a pandemic as any spread of a disease that is:
  • new to the population and has no vaccine yet available
  • passes easily from person to person
  • has caused outbreaks in at least two or more countries in different parts of the world
  • has the potential to cause serious illness and even fatalities
If the WHO decides that current swine flu outbreaks are a pandemic, it will alert governments to begin rolling out their pandemic preparedness plans. The plans may include guidelines for preventing the spread of disease, managing and treating infected persons, and vaccine development. It’s important to remember that a pandemic alert is a preventative measure and does not necessarily mean that most people will contract the illness or that many people will get seriously ill. It’s a way for governments to work together to stop the spread of the disease and find a way to keep it under control.
Who Is Especially at Risk?
As with other types of flu, kids with chronic medical conditions (like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma or other lung problems) can have more problems coping with the illness. They might get sicker and need more medical support; in some cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Pregnant women who catch the flu also are more likely to get sicker. Having the flu can increase the risk for complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In infants, the flu can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Signs and Symptoms Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the common flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Swine flu also can cause pneumonia, which can make it hard to breathe.
Kids with any of these symptoms need immediate medical attention:
fast breathing or trouble breathing bluish skin color not drinking enough fluids very sleepy or lethargic in babies, being so irritable they don't want to be held fever with a rash flu-like symptoms improve, then return with fever and a worse cough
If you think your child has the flu, call your doctor — particularly if you live in any of the states that have reported swine flu outbreaks. To help track a possible epidemic, doctors and scientists can find out if someone has swine flu by taking a swab sample from the person's nose and throat and sending it to a lab to be analyzed. Doctors won't know the results of this test for a few days. Treatment
Currently, no medicine is specifically developed to prevent or treat this new strain of swine flu, but it does appear that some of the antiviral medicines used to treat common seasonal flu may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of illness. Kids without chronic health conditions usually tolerate infection with flu viruses fairly well. But if your child does have a chronic condition, like asthma, make sure to check with your doctor to help ensure the condition is under control. Likewise, if you're pregnant and come down with flu symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has the flu, see a doctor right away. You may need to take antiviral medications as a precaution for yourself and your baby.
These at-home tips can help most otherwise healthy kids cope with the flu:
drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration get plenty of sleep and take it easy take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches (but do not give aspirin unless your doctor instructs you to do so) wear layers, since the flu often makes them cold one minute and hot the next (wearing layers — like a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and robe — makes it easy to add or subtract clothes as needed) Remember to call a doctor if your child seems to get better but then feels worse, develops a high fever, has any trouble breathing, or seems confused.
Protecting Your Family
There is no vaccine against this strain of flu, although scientists should be able to develop one once they have analyzed the new virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that families take these precautions against swine flu: If you recently traveled to Mexico and now have flu symptoms, tell your doctor. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and put used tissues in the trash. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing — wash with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Keep sick kids home from daycare or school and limit their contact with others; kids should stay home 10 days after the onset of illness. Breastfeeding mothers who have the flu can continue breastfeeding, even if they're on antiviral medicines. But they may have to take additional precautions (like wearing a face mask) to reduce the risk to their baby. Talk to your doctor about how you can help keep your baby healthy. Eating Pork
Because the flu virus isn't transmitted through food, the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) say it's safe to eat pork. Of course, pork should be well cooked to avoid any illness. Cooking pork to a temperature of 160° F or higher will kill all viruses (use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature when cooking meats). Don't eat pork that looks pinkish or bloody inside. There's no evidence that touching raw pork will transmit the virus — although it's always a good idea to wash your hands and all surfaces after touching any raw meat. Are U.S. Pigs Affected? Outbreaks of swine flu have been found in pigs in Mexico and Canada. The infected pigs in Canada contracted the illness from a herder who had previously been in Mexico. All infected pigs have been quarantined. So far, there's no evidence that any pigs in the United States are infected with this new strain of swine flu. Signs of flu in pigs are similar to those in humans. If you raise pigs or have a pet pig, call your vet if the pig seems to lack energy or has a fever, is sneezing or coughing, is having trouble breathing, or has a discharge coming from its eyes or nose.
Talking to Kids
Listening to news reports about swine flu can upset kids because they may focus on worst-case scenarios. You can help ease their fears by being available to answer their questions. You can tell kids that there's no need to panic about swine flu. The media and governments are on high alert to help limit the spread of the disease and help people who may become ill. The last flu pandemic that was serious enough to affect millions of people happened a century ago — before people had access to the medical knowledge, care, and medications that we have today. Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MDDate reviewed: April 2009 For more information or info on any other health related issues, visit http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/lung/swine_flu.html

2 comments:

Anne said...

That was very informative on the Swine Flu. Thanks Mandi!

Robert said...

Here is the blog on killing swine flu with vitamin C. No need to get vaccine as the virus will be different next year and whether the vaccine helps hugely is debateable. Vitamin C will keep u from getting it or stop u from getting very sick with the correct dosage. We should be taking 2grams of vitamin C supplements everyday. which is 44 super market Oranges so u need to take it in tablet or powder form.

Vitamin C helps with many systems in the body and you no longer have to have days off cause your sick or fear the flu. I have tested this and proven it myself with friends and family.

http://www.patrickholford.com/index.php/blog/blogarticle/420/