Posted tagged ‘pork’

Everything You Need to Know About the Swine Flu

April 30, 2009

swinefluThe recent outbreak of the swine flu pandemic is causing alarm on a worldwide scale. According to officials in Mexico, 159 have died there so far, prompting further fears of the disease spreading around the globe. The World Health Organization reports that 114 cases have been officially reported, including 8 deaths. (Reuters) As of this morning in the United States, over 100 verified cases have proliferated through ten states with the first fatality being reported in Houston, TX. (AP)

Evidence of the disease’s seriousness can be seen everywhere. The World Health Organization currently classifies swine flu as a health 5 alert, just one phase short of the highest-scale alert. In relation to its origins in Mexico, Janet Napolito of US Homeland Security has suggested isolating the country’s border with Mexico, an idea since rejected by the current administration. President Obama commented, “This is obviously a serious situation and we are closely monitoring the diseases’ spread.” The President “is prepared to do whatever is necessary to control the impact of this virus” and has already lobbied congress for 1.5 billion dollars in emergency aide to produce additional vaccines.

These numbers and statistics suggest that the general public, including you, need to take precaution against exposure to such disease. During the rest of this article, I’m going to educate you a little more on exactly what this is and how you can minimize the likelihood of getting infected.

What is Swine Flu?

Swine Flu is a mutated strain of the influenza virus. The reason it is called the swine flu is because it usually affects pigs. There are many different strains of the disease. Doctors have not yet confirmed how swine flu spreads from person to person, however, it is thought that this can happen through the same methods as the more generic flu, through coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms are very similar to the seasonal influenza virus (flu) and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and a sore throat. Vomiting and diarrhea has also been reported by victims.

What to do if you feel ill?

The Center for Disease Control is saying that if feel symptoms even remotely resembling the flu, you should stay home from work. And if you live in a house with sick family members, stay indoors until you’re clear of carrying the pathogen. Simply put, if you feel ill, stay away from other people as much as you can.

If you’ve got flu-like symptoms and have recently visited a high-risk country such as Mexico, it is highly recommended that you go see your doctor.

In regards to medication if you are affected, the antiviral drugs oseltamavir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) appear to be effective against the human swine influenza strain. Relenza and Tamiflu are not cures but lessen the effect of symptoms.

Quick Tips

  • Contrary to popular belief, the surgical masks you see people wearing over little to no protection against the disease. It is better to focus on keeping your hands clean and dispose of tissues as they are used. See more info on surgical masks here.
  • Even if you got your flu shot this season, it does not protect you from the swine flu. Nobody saw these coming and the vaccines you took wasn’t made with this in mind. Don’t be reckless and take precautions like everyone else.
  • You cannot contract this disease from eating pork, as it is not a food-borne illness. Keep eating that bacon!
  • According to WebMD Keep informed of what’s going on in your community. Your state and local health departments may have important information if swine flu develops in your area. For instance, parents might want to consider what they would do if their child’s school temporarily closed because of flu. That happened in New York City, where St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens closed for a couple of days after eight students were found to have swine flu.  Don’t panic, but a little planning wouldn’t hurt.