By: Body1 Staff
The number of Americans infected with swine flu continues to grow and a Texas infant who contracted the flu has died.
The current outbreak is due to a mutation that has allowed the virus to be passed from human to human. Swine influenza virus is caused by Orthomyxoviruses that originate in pig populations. The strains of swine flu identified to date have been classified as Influenzavirus C or Influenzavirus A.
On April 29, the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert level from phase 4 to phase 5 in response to the outbreak of swine flu. The WHO recommendations include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.
As of 10:30 a.m. EST on April 30, 109 cases of human swine flu infection were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. States with confirmed laboratory cases of swine flu are:
Arizona – 1 case
California – 14 cases
Indiana – 1 case
Kansas – 2 cases
Massachusetts – 2 cases
Michigan – 1 case
Nevada – 1 case
New York – 50 cases
Ohio – 1 case
What to Watch For
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of the regular flu and can include fever, cough, sore throat, head and body aches, chills and fatigue. In some reported cases, individuals have also reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like the common flu, swine flu can be especially dangerous for people with underlying medical conditions.
Special Considerations for Diabetics:
Pay more attention to the CDC Guidelines for Influenza
Handwash extra carefully and avoid crowded spaces
If any respiratory illness starts, go quickly to your primary care doctor
if you are sick with the flu, anti-viral medication need to be started within 2 days
If you are travelling to Mexico or other high risk places, your doctor may prescribe anti-viral medication as a precaution
Hand Washing 101
Wet your hands with warm water (running if possible) and use liquid soap or clean bar soap. Be sure to lather thoroughly.
Rub your hands together briskly for 15 to 20 seconds.
Take care to scrub the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Rinse your hands well to remove all soap residue.
Dry your hands on a clean, disposable towel and use that towel to turn off the faucet.
Sources: Michael Fuller, M.D., CDC
Swine flu is thought to be spread the same way common flu spreads – mainly from contact with an infected person. Being exposed to a person with influenza who is coughing and sneezing or touching something with the flu virus on it and touching your mouth or nose can infect you. Infected people may be contagious before symptoms develop so practicing good hygiene at all times is important.
Preventing the Flu
According to Lisa A. Graves BS, RN and Infection Preventionist at Hebrew Rehab Center in Boston, hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.
Graves also suggests other steps to take to avoid getting sick including using cough and respiratory etiquette. “If you sneeze or cough do so either in your anticubital (elbow area) or in a tissue, never in your hands and if you do, wash your hands immediately after. If you use a tissue, discard, don't reuse and wash hands immediately. Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth, if you do wash hands afterward,” said Graves.
Avoid surfaces that could be infected with the flu virus and avoid contact with people who are sick. Note that some viruses can live for more than two hours on surfaces such as countertops, tables, doorknobs or desks.
What if You Feel Sick?
Once you are sick, the CDC recommends staying home from work or school to avoid infecting other people. Graves seconds that advice. “Stay home if you are ill. If you have flu like symptoms stay home for seven days after your first symptoms or 24 hours after your last symptom, whichever is longer. Lots of people don't feel they are sick enough to stay home or don't have any sick time and come to work and spead to others.”
Swine Flu or Regular Flu?
If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms and live in an area that has confirmed swine flu cases, you should contact your doctor who can determine if further testing or treatment is necessary. If you experience the sudden onset of any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:
• Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
• Chest pain or pressure
• Sudden dizziness or confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
Swine flu is not spread by eating or preparing pork. Eating properly handled and prepared pork is perfectly safe. For the most current information on the swine flu, visit the CDC website , the Boston Public Health Commission or the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services.