Thursday, June 11, 2009
Update on H1N1 (swine flu)
June 11, 2009—Due to the continued spread of the H1N1 flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6.
According to current evidence, the overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment.
If you have severe illness or high risk of flu complications, seek medical care. Your healthcare provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed. Please note that if this flu becomes widespread, there will be little need to continue testing people, so your healthcare provider may decide not to test for the flu virus.
Doctors can prescribe antiviral drugs (pills, liquid, or inhaler) to treat those who become severely ill with influenza. Recommended medications for use against H1N1 are oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®). As H1N1 spreads, antiviral drugs may become in short supply. Therefore, the drugs will be given first to those who have been hospitalized or have high risk of complications. The drugs work best if given within two days of becoming ill, but may be given later in cases of severe illness or high risk of complications.
Good personal hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu. Please remember:
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have also reported nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw tissues into the trash immediately after use. If a tissue is not available, use your sleeve or the crook of your arm, not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep a distance of at least six feet from sick people.
- If you think you have the flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
For additional information regarding H1N1, please visit the Centers for Disease Control or WHO websites.
About Freeman Health System
Not-for-profit, community-owned, and locally governed, Freeman Health System is a 404-bed, three-hospital system. Based in Joplin, the fourth largest metropolitan area in Missouri, Freeman provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services to an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
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