The news right now is full of information about the swine flu and the fact that we are in a state of emergency preparedness. Therefore I thought it would be timely to go over the facts about swine flu and the precautions everyone can take. The following is what we know at the time of this writing with some numbers that will probably change as time progresses.

The news right now is full of information about the swine flu and the fact that we are in a state of emergency preparedness. Therefore I thought it would be timely to go over the facts about swine flu and the precautions everyone can take. The following is what we know at the time of this writing with some numbers that will probably change as time progresses.

Swine influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the United States as well as identified internationally. The current U.S. cases reported stands at 20 thus far. Currently there are no reported cases in Missouri.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with swine influenza viruses. The Independence Health Department and others in the Kansas City region are working with hospitals and physicians to be sure we know when and if the disease should enter our area.

The Centers for Disease Control is working very closely with officials in states where human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) have been identified, as well as with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization. This includes deploying staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support. The CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate this investigation.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, 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.  So far, there have been no deaths in the United States. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

We know that some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

There are adequate antiviral medications to deal with cases in Missouri if the need arises, and a plan on getting medications to those who need them is in place. Missouri’s public health officials are working with our federal partners to make sure this plan works.

Prevention begins with you. As in all flu cases, you need to follow these guidelines to prevent the spread of disease.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

 

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.    Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.   Try to avoid close contact with sick people.   If you get sick with influenza, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.


For more information, go to the CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.