Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Swine Flu Issue

With all the media coverage right now concerning the spread of the Swine Flu, many people are confused and wondering just what all this hoopla means. As a nurse, I thought I would take a few minutes to explain things to the best of my ability and hopefully allay some fears among readers.

As I understand it, this began in Mexico. There have been many deaths there from Swine Flu over the past couple of weeks and the infection has since popped up in five US states, as well as in New Zealand, Israel, Spain, and some Asian countries too. The most numerous cases here – right now – seem to be in New York where students who went to Mexico on spring break apparently brought it back with them and have now passed it on to over a hundred of their classmates.

This is exactly how maladies such as this get around. With today’s ease of travel, all it takes is one sick person getting on a plane to start the spread of something highly infectious. That is just how simple it is, folks. One infects two, two infects four, four infects eight, and so on and so forth. It’s a mathematical certainty. This is the bad news.

The good news is that the H1N1 virus, the Swine Flu, is not a new bug. It’s been around for a long time and this isn’t the first instance of it popping up around the world. In Mexico, there is a much larger population of the poor and these people don’t seek medical treatment as quickly as we do because it isn’t as readily available to them. Also, the medical treatment that they do have access to isn’t as advanced as what more developed nations have to offer. So far Mexico is the only country where there have been deaths attributed to Swine Flu. In the other countries where it has appeared, medical care is better and people are not only more apt to seek it but they also can get to it fairly easily. We also have better access to antivirals like Tamiflu and Relenza than the poor people in Mexico. So it only stands to reason that mortality in higher developed nations is going to be far lower.

Another thing I would like to stress is that right now this is still considered an epidemic, and only in Mexico is it considered even this. The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is that an epidemic is something widespread in one area, whereas a pandemic is something global. As of right now, the World Health Organization has not declared a pandemic because H1N1 is only turning up in spotty areas and only in a few countries. President Obama has gone on record as saying that there is no cause for alarm at the present; only a cause for concern. Think of it this way: there are around 306,311,578 people in the US and 64 of them have Swine Flu. Puts it in a littler better perpsective, eh?

There are very simple things that people can do to avoid getting sick if Swine Flu puts in an appearance in your area:

1. Wash your hands after contact with anybody. Wash them with soap and water and wash them thoroughly.
2. Cover your mouth if you cough.
3. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
4. If you feel sick, stay at home and call your doctor.
5. Do not be around anyone who is sick unless it absolutely necessary.

Fever between one hundred one and one hundred two degrees, body aches, and upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, swollen glands, and runny nose are the symptoms of Swine Flu. These are pretty much the symptoms of any flu but with the normal flu season over for this year, be alert and aware if you or someone you know develops these symptoms and call your doctor immediately. The sooner you get treatment the sooner you can expect to recover.

Lastly, do not panic. As is now being reported, this is regional in the US. The government and the WHO, as well as the CDC, will keep the public updated as to any further developments and also as to the progression of the Swine Flu if and when it appears in other states.

I hope this helps as far as answering some questions for my friends and readers. As always, if you have any further concerns, contact your regular doctor or your local health department. More information can also be found here:

Be safe and stay healthy.

And that is my sole focus for today.