Join me on a free Health Chat to discuss swine flu on Wednesday April 29th at 1PM EST. To register, go to: http://www.medhelp.org/health_chats/register/17
Due to the swine flu, the US has declared a public health emergency.
We're early in the outbreak of this new virus, with most all patients in the US having mild illness who have recovered without treatment. Only 1 of the 20 cases have been hospitalized. Since the US strain is a genetic match to the Mexico strain, officials are concerned about the potential of deaths in America from swine flu. In Mexico there have been many deaths from pneumonia that sounds like ARDS to me.
You can protect yourself by avoiding those who cough, ask those who do to cover their cough (not with their hands, eg. with a mask), practice good hygiene with hand washing and don't touch your own eyes, nose and mouth.
What's important is that if in the last week you have been to Mexico, San Diego, Imperial County or Texas, and come back with a flu like illness with fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea, call your doctor. You may benefit from Tamiflu or Relenza pills. What your doctor will do is test you for flu and if you have an untypeable flu (one that we doesn't match those we've seen before) it could be swine flu.
I've been following the CDC on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CDCemergency and at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/ which CDC has promised to update at 3pm EST daily.
To be prepared, make a plan for your family to consider how you would manage if your community was disrupted for 2 weeks:
- do you have food & water stored?
- if you have chronic illness, do you have enough for 2 weeks?
- how would you manage your children if they couldn't go to school for 2 weeks?
- do you have a communications plan with your family? e.g. where to meet in case of disaster.
The American Public Health Assn has a great site at http://www.getreadyforflu.org/ with these and other good suggestions.
Expect daily changes, as this epidemic spreads, so far, touching San Diego, Imperial County, Texas (san antonio), Iowa, Ohio, New York (Queens), and many other countries. It's scary, but you can get prepared!
Enoch Choi, MD
For more read my last post, "is this a cold or something more serious?" http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/70703