Flu Archives

Swine Flu


The United States has declared a public health emergency for the swine flu. This is not a cause for panic. It’s what the government does when there’s an impending catastrophe such as a hurricane. There might be a pandemic, there might not.

The swine flu virus is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by Type A influenza viruses. (See past blog post of March 26, 2009). Symptoms for the pig include:

  • Coughing (“barking”)
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Going off feed

Pigs get infected from other pigs that have the swine flu, but they can also get it from birds with the avian flu and from human beings. This crossing of species can lead to new viruses.

Interestingly, there is no evidence that humans can catch the swine flu from eating pork. Be sure to cook pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and that would kill bacteria and viruses.

Symptoms in humans include:

  • Fever (101 to 102 degrees)
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Coughing

It can also include runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

You should use a mask even when going to the doctor. (Masks are for healthy people, too, so if you go to the doctor for say, a physical, it would be prudent to wear a mask. Some doctors provide masks for their patients). Diagnosis includes getting a respiratory specimen during the first four or five days of the illness when shedding the virus. Children may shed up to 10 days or longer.

The swine flu is currently making headlines, but CNN reports that the regular flu has killed thousands since January. They report the following:

  • Swine flu getting focus, but so far it’s not deadly in the United States
  • Since January, more than 13,000 have died of complications from seasonal flu
  • Worldwide annual death from the flu estimated between 250,000 and 500,000
  • About 9 out of 10 flu deaths are among people older than 65

For the full article, see http://budurl.com/j9t6.

Seniors with a weakened immune system are especially at risk for any type of flu and this should serve as a wake-up call for seniors. It’s a time to be really pro-active to protect yourself. Currently there is no vaccine that would take care of this particular strain of the swine flu. Even if there were one to be developed, it would take time to get it out to the public.

Besides a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and exercise, take stock of your nutritional supplements. Vitamark International, for example, has a drink called Limu Plus that does many things, but I take it specifically to boost my immune system. It can’t prevent colds by any means, but it might shorten the recovery time. Additionally, most people, including myself, who take superior quality vitamins also find that they have fewer illnesses or that the recovery time is shortened. I can’t make any claims for the products, but I can only share what they’re doing for me.

Take the standard precautions of washing your hands frequently and avoid rubbing your eyes. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. If you cough, cough into your elbow, not your hands. Let your doctor know if you have flu-like symptoms and have been around pigs, been to Mexico, or around someone who has the swine flu virus.

I wish you the best of health!

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Seniors and the Flu

docwizMonday’s issue of USA Today contained an article, “Drug-resistant Flu Strains Throw Dctors a Curve,” with some interesting statistics obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov). It stated that every year about 200,000 people get sent to the hospital and of that number, approximately 50% are over age 64. Furthermore, of the 36,000 that die each year from the flu, more than 90% are people over 64.

It is a known fact that the flu vaccine is an educated guess as to what strain of flu will hit for the season. This season, fortunately, the types of flu strains circulating are covered by the current vaccine.  (Type A: H1N1 and H3N2 and Type B) Next season’s vaccine will include the same Type A strains and a new Type B.

Drugs that are currently available target certain types of flu, but the problem is that most doctors don’t know which flu strain has infected their patients because the symptoms are the same. There is a viral culture that can be taken, but it takes about a week to obtain the results.

Here are the currently available drugs and what they target:

  • Tamiflu: H3N2 and type B only
  • Relenza: all three flu strains
  • Amantadine and rimantadine: H1N1 only

Tamiflu is relatively new and can be delivered in pill or liquid form. It can reduce the severity and duration of the flu and is also used for protection against the bird flu, but even some variants of the bird flu are beginning to show reduced sensitivity.

For most people, the flu vaccine is the best defense. Prescription drugs always have side effects, so particularly for the elderly that have other health problems, this could mean a risk for flu complications.

Bottom line … make sure you keep your immune system strong. In upcoming posts, I will cover different ways to do this. In the meantime, take care — spring is right around the corner!

PS – As a member of HiltonHonors, when I stay at a Hilton property, I get USA Today delivered to my door each weekday morning. I’m pretty loyal to the Hilton line. It’s one of the best rewards programs. Check it out at www.hiltonhhonors.com.