With Swine Flu being on everyone’s mind and a hot topic of conversation at present, we thought it would be helpful to provide some expert information on the subject.
WHAT IS IT?
As found on Dr. Sue Hubbard M.D.’s website, THE KiD’S DOCTOR, Swine Flu is described as an Influenza A virus that is typically seen in herds of pigs or in those people who come into contact with pigs. In this case the Influenza A that has been detected (Swine Flu, H1N1) is a flu that has both swine, avian and human virus in its genetic material. It also seems to be spreading across the country as well as Mexico and Canada from person to person contact.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
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According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), symptoms of H1N1 Swine Flu include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. The high risk groups for novel H1N1 flu are not known at this time but it’s possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza. People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu include people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).
HOW CAN IT BE AVOIDED?
You should stay home and avoid contact with other persons, except to seek medical care. If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a mask or cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness. At the current time, CDCbelieves that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Also according to Dr. Hubbard, swine flu seems to be sensitive to the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza . These drugs must be started within 48 hours of flu symptoms to be effective in shortening the course of the illness. Tamiflu may not be used in children under one year of age, and Relenza is not approved for children under seven years.
Please be sure to use basic caution right now. Wash your hands often and have your children do the same. Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough (I’ve heard it suggested it is actually best to do so in the crook of your elbow, rather than using your hands). And, if anyone in your family is sick, STAY HOME! If you suspect it might be H1N1 Swine Flu, seek medical attention, but otherwise avoid public places, such as work, school, and places of worship.