What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in the animal and specifically the pig populations. The Center For Disease Control has reported that between April and August, 2009, there has been a surge in hospitalization of school aged children due to infection with Influenza A, novel H1N1 virus. This virus has not been as problematic as suspected in persons older than 20 years old (http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm). Swine flu or Influenza A viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person.
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (novel H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include low grade fever (99-101 degrees), cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people, however, like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. If you are having any of the above symptoms, Dr. Nally recommends you get evaluated for the flu.
Many patients have been extremely concerned about the constant media coverage of the recent documentation of increased numbers of swine flu cases. Please do not be alarmed by all the “Media Hype” and “Shock Tactics” used by television and radio.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
There is a vaccine that will be available in mid-October to help prevent the spread of this virus. This vaccine will be given to school-aged children, pregnant women, and the health care providers that treat them first, then as the vaccine is made available, it will be offered to the rest of the community.
See your doctor for further information about the flu or if you suspect you may have the symptoms above.