Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu, Could This Be True, Will It Effect You, & What To Do?

So in case you haven't heard, there's a virus going around, as in around the WORLD, that holds threat of becoming a cataclysmic pandemic. The virus, known as the swine flu, is predominantly affecting Mexico, but has been detected in other countries including the U.S., Spain, and Scotland, and is suspected in countries that include New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Israel. W.H.O. (World Health Organization) has set a global pandemic flu alert level of four --only two levels away from a full-fledged pandemic level-- which confirms human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Seeing as this is an imminent crisis, the swine flu will take precedence over my blog post for today. So for those who aren't thoroughly familiar with the topic, let's break it down:

What it is: According to the CDC, the swine flue is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. The swine flu virus was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

What this means:
The swine flu does not normally infect humans, however it has erratically occurred in the past. We are currently going through one of these erratic outbreaks. The flu shot you may have last received will not protect you against the swine flu strain. However, you will not get the flu by eating pork or pork products. Proper cooking kills any possibility of contamination. The swine flu is being transported via humans, not pigs.

Symptoms: The symptoms of the swine flu are very similar to the typical human influenza. These include any of the following: fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, coughing, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, and sore throat.

It's Impacts on the U.S.: The virus has been detected in 10 different states. The number of cases in the U.S. is reported to be 100, involving one death of a nearly two year-old-boy in Houston, Texas. The mass of the occurences are in New York, which currently has reported 61 cases. There are 16 cases in Texas and 14 in California. Two cases have been confirmed in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Kansas, and one case each in Nevada, Ohio, Indiana, and Arizona. Several schools in New York, California, and Texas, where cases have been spotted, have been shut down for the time being.

It's Impacts Around the World: The flu, which is speculated to have orginated in Mexico, has killed nearly 150 people in the country. As mentioned before, other countries around the world have also detected cases of the swine flu. As a precaution, Egypt has issued for the slaughtering of all pigs located in the country, even though the virus is not food-borne.

How Serious is This: Well, I'm not an expert, but judging from the amount of deaths the virus has caused, it seems to be pretty a pretty serious threat. The flu has proliferated in a short amount of time across a wide amount of places. According to President Obama, "This is obviously a serious situation," and "we are closely and continuously monitoring it."

What's Being Done: Obama has summoned $1.5 billion to be put towards ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines. The two antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza have proven to be effective in treating the virus.

The Good News: The majority of the cases reported in the U.S. so far are seemingly mild.
The Bad News: The virus is killing off a large amount of people in Mexico and is suspected to increasingly spread nationwide and worldwide.

What You Can Do: Similar to many other sicknesses, there are a few main precautions you can take in order to avoid getting the flu. Try to avoid those who are sick. If you become sick from something other than the swine flu, your immune system will already be weakened, making you more susceptible to other illnesses. Wash your hands consistently using soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you do experience flulike symptoms, stay home and rest.

The Bottom Line: Most likely, if you're a U.S. cititzen, there isn't an immediate need to go out and buy a face mask, or undergo any other extreme contigencies. However, avoid people who are sick, and try to stay as healthy as possible. If avoidable, don't make travel arrangements to Mexico. Lastly, don't panic. There's no need to get extremely stressed out about this because all you can do is just be where you are, keep doing what you're doing, and live.

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