North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

April 29, 2009

Swine flu: What you and Old McDonald should know

Health Watch By Steve Mullenix

The North Jefferson News




You’ve read about in the paper and heard about it on the news.

With images of people walking around with white masks covering their noses and mouths, the media is really putting the spin on swine flu.

The scare has even hit Mt. Olive, as I am getting e-mails from customers asking me if I have Tamiflu in stock.



What is swine flu?

Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type-A influenza viruses. Regular outbreaks occur in pigs.

Although people do not normally get swine flu, human infections can and do occur. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person.

In the past, this transmission was limited. So, why the hype now?

The CDC normally received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the United States, but this year through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.

So far, swine flu has killed more than 100 people and affected possibly 14 hundred others in Mexico since April 13 of this year. There are 20 confirmed cases in five states in America and suspected cases in Canada and France. In addition, 10 people have tested positive for influenza-A in New Zealand.

You may keep hearing the term “pandemic,” which is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through populations across a large region or even worldwide. One of the major concerns is that there is no vaccine against this strain of the flu, thus a lot of the individuals for serious risk for catching the flu and are not able to be protected.

In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. Precautions are being taken to the point of closing schools and cancelling scheduled public events to limit the spread. Historically, flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouths or noses.

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