Sunday, April 26, 2009

H1N1.... Swine Flu

Mexico City is almost shut down. More than one hundred people have died, and a couple thousand hospitalized with a mutated Swine Flu. This virulent strain of influenza has now spread to Europe, New Zealand, Israel, and multiple locations in the US in the last seventy two hours. . I have been watching the CDC updates since last week, and am becoming concerned that this could be a devastating event.... possibly a pandemic.

The Flu pandemic of 1918 that killed fifty million people, was a similar strain of H1N1. Swine are the petri dish where the avian, human, and swine flu mixed and mutated, then it jumped to humans, now it is spreading more rapidly than we could have imagined. In 1918, it was spread through the WWI soldiers in the trenches in Europe, then coming home. The virus then ravaged the country. It killed young, healthy adults; unlike the human flu that we see every winter that have higher mortality rates in the very young and the very old.

The CDC and World Health Organization have long been aware of the probability of another pandemic, they are watching this illness spread with increasing concern. The world is watching and waiting, virtually helpless to stop the rapid spread of this deadly virus. There is increased concern because of the ability to travel so far and so fast; not so in 1918, when the GIs came home on ships. We can - and have - spread the virus around the world in about two days time. The next few days and weeks will tell the tale. Is this going to be the one that Virologists have predicted? Is this flu going to wipe out a large portion of our population?

The biggest problem I see, is the apathy that is greeting the news of this virus.... no one seems to care. We are in a cloud of oblivion and are not heeding the warnings that a big storm is coming... and we will all be so surprised when we find ourselves in Kansas!

The CDC has compiled a list so families can prepare for a pandemic. It has been on their website for a couple years, and I have given it to many friends. It is worth looking at, if not following in light of the events of the last seventy two hours. Here it is, Let's all hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

You can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. You should know both the magnitude of what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family. This checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.To plan for a pandemic: Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home. Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins. Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home. Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response. Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection: Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and model the correct behavior. Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and be sure to model that behavior. Teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick. Stay home from work and school if sick.


JeanieSpokane said...

Thank you Jan, excellent report and I take it very, very seriously.

JeanieSpokane said...

In your opinion, what is the difference in the daily death of 'normal' flu vs. the potential in the latest swine flu craze? I'm just curious. I am kind of with Toadman in wondering why the hype at this moment re swine flu since the "regular" flu has killed many thousand in the last year.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is need to do your research on the make up of the virus, for one. It all lies with the virulence factor of each strain; yes, your "typical" flu DOES kill several thousands of people each year, but usually these people are immunocompromised, elderly and/or infants with immune systems that have not fully developed. A mutated version of H1N1, with a very high virulence factor, would more than likely end up decimating mostly YOUNG otherwise healthy adults, who would more than likely end up dying secondary to a cytokine storm. Look it up...and educate yourself before becoming so apathetic...please!