Monday, August 24, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu

H1N1 or what most of us know as the Swine Flu can be very serious. It is a different strain than we normally have and affects a different age group (6 - 49) mostly. Flu is unpredictable in nature but prevention is always the best line of defense.

Oregon Emergency Management wants you to take this seriously, however we want to give you some information that may relieve your minds and help you to get through this season safely.

First - get your regular seasonal flu shot. This is not for H1N1 but will cover you for 3 other strains that may show up this winter. There is no better proven method than to get vaccinated.

Next, if you are in the at risk group for H1N1, you will need to get 2 shots a few weeks apart. Information can be found at on who will be the priority groups for those shots.

The flu is a set of symtoms: respiratory, fever, headache, cough, sore throat, muscle aches. It can put you in bed for 7 - 10 days and the cough and fatique can last for a month or more.

Incubation of the flu is 1-3 days. You can spread it before you know you have it. Wash your hands, keep your distance.

The flu is spread by droplets. H1N1 has large, heavy droplets that fall to the ground within 3 feet. The droplets are also larger than normal. So - keep your distance, cover your cough with you sleeve or as my mom taught me - cough and sneeze down into your shirt.

Why should we worry about H1N1 when we have flu every year? First - it has rapidly spread already so is out there. Second, it affects younger people (under 50) which is unusual and lastly its severity is difficult to predict. Most deaths have been in the 25 to 49 age group. Seasonal flu affects the elderly, the very young and those with compromised immune systems.

H1N1 could fizzle out and not be a problem or it could be severe and last for 1 or 2 years. We just don't know.

Currently, there are more cases than normal across the world in 170 countries. The vaccine should be available shortly.

Dr Goldberg, Director Oregon Dept. of Human Services says preparedness is a team sport.
but the best I've heard is from Gen. Caldwell of the Oregon Military Dept. He says if it's wet and it's not yours, don't touch it.

Please be careful. Let's nip this in the bud by keeping our distance, washing our hands regularly and using antibacterial waterless hand cleanser, COVER your cough. If you don't feel well, stay home! We can help stop the spread if we all work together. Thanks