10 Things You Should Know About The H1N1 Virus This Season

Swine Flu Update > 10 Things You Should Know About The H1N1 Virus This Season

H1N1-pandemic-logoHere you will find updated information about the H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) as we’re heading into the fall and flu season of 2009.

The global swine flu epidemic has sickened more than 1 million Americans and about 500 people have succumbed to it since it first emerged last April. Since it has spread worldwide, tens of thousands have been infected and nearly 2,000 have died.

As this summer is winding down, the virus has surprisingly taken a stronghold in the United States, refusing to fade away as flu viruses normally do. Health officials are now predicting a surge of cases this fall season, perhaps being more substantially noticeable in the very near future as schools have reopened for the new school year.

A panel of experts from a recent White House report  suggests that from 30% to 50% of the population could catch swine flu during the course of this pandemic and that from 30,000 to 90,000 could possibly die.

So how worried should you be and how do you prepare?

To help consolidate the mass amount of information being released by the panel of experts in Washington DC along with the CDC (Center For Disease Control), here are 10 things you should know to be more knowledgeable or to put it another way, “flu-savvy”.

(1) – There is NO cause for panic –

So far, swine flu isn’t much more threatening than regular seasonal flu. During the few months of this new flu’s existence, hospitalizations and deaths from it seem to be lower than the average in comparison to seasonal flu, and the virus hasn’t dramatically mutated. That’s what health officials have observed in the Southern Hemisphere where flu season is now winding down. Still, more people are susceptible to swine flu and American health officials are worried because it took such a firm grasp here during the summer….. a time of year the flu usually dissipates.

(2) – The virus will be tougher on selective groups –

Swine flu is more of a threat to certain groups:

  • children under 2
  • pregnant women
  • people afflicted with health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease

Teens and young adults are also more vulnerable to swine flu.

Ordinary, seasonal flu hits older people the hardest, but not in this case with the swine flu. Scientists think older people may have built up some immunity to it from exposure over the years to viruses similar to swine flu.

(3) – Wash your hands longer and more frequently –

Just like with seasonal flu, Swine Flu spreads through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick. You should emphasize to children that they should wash with soap and water long enough to finish singing the alphabet song, “Now I know my ABC’s…”

It is also highly recommended to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers on a regular basis.

(4) – Get the kids and most ‘at-risk’ groups vaccinated –

These groups should be first in line for swine flu shots, especially if vaccine supplies are limited:

  • Young people from 6 months to 24 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People affected with those high-risk medical conditions previously noted.
    Also a priority:
  • Health care workers.
  • Parents and caregivers of infants

(5) – Act quickly and get your shots early –H1N1_Vaccine

Millions of swine flu shots should be available by mid-October. If you are in one of the priority groups, try to get your shot as early as possible. Check with your doctor or (local or state) health department about where to do this. Many children should be able to get vaccinated at school. You can expect permission forms to be sent home in advance.

(6) – Immunity takes awhile –

Even those first in line for shots won’t have immunity until around Thanksgiving. That’s because it’s more than likely going to take two shots… given three weeks apart… to provide protection. And it takes a week or two after the last shot for the vaccine to take full effect. The regular seasonal flu shot should be widely available in September.

People over 50 are urged to be among the first to get that shot.

(7) – Vaccines are being tested –

Health officials presume the swine flu vaccine is safe and effective, but they’re testing it to make sure. The federal government has begun studies in eight cities across the country to assess its effectiveness and figure out the best dose. Vaccine makers are doing their own tests as well.

(8) – If you’re surrounded by swine flu, then what? –

If an outbreak of swine flu hits your area before you’re vaccinated… be extra cautious!

  • In general, try to keep your distance from people — Stay away from public gathering places like malls, sports events, concerts, churches, crowded movie theaters, crowded restaurants, etc.
  • Keep washing those hands with soap and water (remember the sanitizer also) and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

(9) – What if you get sick? –

  • If you have other health problems or are pregnant and develop flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. You may be prescribed Tamiflu or Relenza. These drugs can reduce the severity of swine flu if taken right after symptoms start.
  • If you develop breathing problems (rapid breathing for kids), pain in your chest, constant vomiting or a fever that keeps rising… go to an emergency room.
  • Most people should just stay home and get some rest.
  • Cough into your elbow or shoulder.
  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks.
  • Fluids and pain relievers like Tylenol can help with aches and fever.
  • Always check with a doctor before giving children any medicines. Adult cold and flu remedies are not meant for them.

(10) – No swine flu from barbecue –

You can’t catch swine flu from pork – or poultry either (even though it recently turned up in some turkeys in Chile).

Swine flu is not spread by handling meat, whether it’s raw or cooked.

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Here are a few recent posts from this blog related to this important topic:

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cdc_logoFor any additional information, go to the CDC website(s) listed below:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

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Tamiflu – What You Need To Know

tamifluWhen you or someone in your family begins to experience flu symptoms >>> you have 48 hours to take action.

Trust TAMIFLU………. the #1 prescribed antiviral flu medication

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For flu treatment: When taken within two days of experiencing symptoms, TAMIFLU works by helping to stop the flu virus from spreading inside the body

For flu prevention: When you have been exposed to someone with the flu, taking TAMIFLU can help keep the virus from making you sick

tamiflu

T A K I N G     T A M I F L U

* TAMIFLU is NOT a substitute for the flu shot.

* Vaccination is the first line of defense for flu protection.

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TAMIFLU is Effective for both Children and Adults

In flu treatment studies of patients who took TAMIFLU within 48 hours of the first appearance of symptoms:

  • Adults felt better 30 percent faster (1.3 days) than flu patients who did not take TAMIFLU
  • Children felt better up to 26 percent faster (1.5 days) than flu patients who did not take TAMIFLU

TAMIFLU is indicated for the treatment and prevention of influenza in people 1 year and older.

Flu strains may vary from area to area, so if you are exposed to a strain of the flu that is not the same strain as the one your flu shot protects against, you may still get the flu.

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TAMIFLU is a prescription medication for flu prevention and treatment in adults and children aged 1 year and older.

  • TAMIFLU is available in pill form
  • TAMIFLU is also available in a fruit–flavored liquid form with a dosing dispenser for children 1 year and older and for adults who have difficulty swallowing the capsule.
  • TAMIFLU can be taken with or without food. As with many medicines, if you take TAMIFLU with a light snack, milk, or a meal, the potential for an upset stomach may be reduced.

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TAMIFLU Dosing ScheduleDEU VOGELGRIPPE TAMIFLU

For Flu Treatment:

  1. Take 1 dose, twice daily, for 5 days
    (see TAMIFLU Dosage chart for dose amount)

For Flu Prevention:

  1. Take 1 dose, once daily, for 10 days
    (see TAMIFLU Dosage chart for dose amount)

TAMIFLU Dosage by Age and Weight

Age and Weight Pill Dosage Liquid Dosage
(using oral dosing dispenser)
Adults and Children
13 yrs. and older
1 Dose=
One 75 mg pill
1 Dose=
75 mg
Children 1 – 12 yrs.
33 lbs. or less
(15 kg or less)
1 Dose=
One 30 mg pill
1 Dose=
30 mg
34 lbs – 51 lbs
(16 kg – 23 kg)
1 Dose=
One 45 mg pill
1 Dose=
45 mg
52 lbs – 88 lbs
(24 kg – 40 kg)
1 Dose=
Two 30 mg pills
1 Dose=
60 mg
89 lbs or more
(41 kg or more)
1 Dose=
One 75 mg pill
1 Dose=
75 mg*

*The 75 mg dose can be measured using a combination of 30 mg and 45 mg.

In the event that the dispenser provided with the suspension is lost or damaged, another dosing syringe or other device may be used to deliver the following volumes:

  • For children 33 lbs or less (15 kg or less): 2.5 mL (½ tsp)
  • For children 34 lbs – 51 lbs (16 kg – 23 kg): 3.8 mL (¾ tsp)
  • For children 52 lbs – 88 lbs (23 kg – 40 kg): 5.0 mL (1 tsp)
  • For people 89 lbs or more (41 kg or more): 6.2 mL (1 ¼ tsp)

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What to Do if You Miss Your TAMIFLU Dose

If you forget to take your medicine at any time, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it is within 2 hours of your next scheduled dose. Do not take two doses at a time to make up for a missed dose. You can then continue to take TAMIFLU at the usual times.

Taking TAMIFLU with Other Medications

TAMIFLU has been shown to have a minimal chance of negatively interacting with other medications. Your doctor or healthcare professional may recommend taking over–the–counter medications to reduce severity of symptoms while the antiviral action of TAMIFLU takes effect on the flu virus. As with any medication, be sure to discuss with your doctor any over–the–counter or prescription medicines you are currently taking before beginning TAMIFLU therapy. An intranasal flu vaccine like FluMist®* should not be given within 2 weeks before or 48 hours after taking TAMIFLU, unless it is deemed appropriate by your doctor.

Taking TAMIFLU if You Have Kidney Disease

If you have any type of kidney disease, talk to your doctor before starting TAMIFLU therapy. There is a special dosing schedule, as follows, for this group:

  • Flu Treatment Dosage — One 75 mg dose, once daily for 5 days
  • Flu Prevention Dosage — One 75 mg dose every other day or 30 mg dose once daily

How to Store TAMIFLU

TAMIFLU capsules should be stored at room temperature below 77ºF (25ºC) and kept in a dry place. Refrigerate liquid TAMIFLU at 36º to 46ºF (2º to 8ºC). Do not freeze. As with all medications, keep out of the reach of children.

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Side Effects & Safety of TAMIFLU

Rare but serious skin reactions and allergic reactions have been reported. Stop taking TAMIFLU and call your doctor if you experience any of these reactions, as they could be very serious.

People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of self injury and confusion shortly after taking TAMIFLU and should be closely monitored for signs of unusal behavior. A healthcare professional should be contacted immediately if the patient taking TAMIFLU shows any signs of unusual behavior.

The most common side effects of TAMIFLU are mild to moderate nausea and vomiting. TAMIFLU is generally well tolerated.

In addition, take the following precautions when using TAMIFLU:

  • You should not take TAMIFLU if you are allergic to oseltamivir phosphate or any other ingredients of TAMIFLU.
  • TAMIFLU is normally not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, as the effects on the unborn child or nursing infant are unknown. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding while taking TAMIFLU, talk to your doctor before taking TAMIFLU.
  • If you have any type of kidney disease, talk to your doctor before starting TAMIFLU therapy.
  • The use of TAMIFLU along with an intranasal flu vaccine like FluMist®* has not been evaluated. However, due to the possibility for interference between these products, an intranasal flu vaccine should not be given within 2 weeks before or 48 hours after taking TAMIFLU, unless it is deemed appropriate by your doctor. The type of flu vaccine administered as a shot through the skin can be given at any time relative to use of TAMIFLU.

As with any medication, be sure to discuss with your doctor any over–the–counter or prescription medicines you are currently taking before beginning TAMIFLU therapy.

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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

TAMIFLU is prescribed for treating adults and children 1 year and older with influenza (flu) whose symptoms started within the last day or two. TAMIFLU can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in patients 1 year and older. TAMIFLU is not a substitute for the annual flu vaccinations (you should still get the flu shot every year).

Before taking TAMIFLU, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have kidney disease, heart disease, respiratory disease, or other serious health conditions. Also, let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications or if you have received nasally administered influenza virus vaccine during the past two weeks.

If you develop an allergic reaction or a severe rash, stop taking TAMIFLU and contact your healthcare professional immediately, as it may be very serious. People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of self injury and confusion shortly after taking TAMIFLU and should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior. A healthcare professional should be contacted immediately if the patient taking TAMIFLU shows any signs of unusual behavior.

The most common side effects are mild to moderate nausea and vomiting.

Tamiflu Strongly Urged by CDC For Pregnant Women Who Get Swine Flu

If you’re pregnant, you’re at such high risk of complications such as pneumonia, dehydration and premature labor that you should be treated at once with the antiviral drug Tamiflu — even though it is not normally recommended in pregnancy. Because a positive test for the new H1N1 flu can take days Tamiflu should be given to any pregnant patient with flu symptoms and a history of likely contact with someone else with swine flu.
Up until now, swine flu has not proven to be much more dangerous than seasonal influenza. It is not clear whether pregnant women catch swine flu more often than other people, but in general, the flu poses additional risks for pregnant women.

Pregnancy weakens a woman’s immune system so that she is more likely to suffer pneumonia when she catches the flu. In previous flu pandemics, infection also raised the risk of a premature birth claims the CDC.

Pregnant women with asthma and some other health conditions are particularly at risk for complications.

The Center For Disease Control streeses the need to get the word out about the likely benefits of prompt antiviral treatment” for pregnant women.

Still, the flu medicines’ effectiveness is somewhat limited, studies have shown. They can relieve symptoms and shorten the disease by about a day. They only work if started within 48 hours of first symptoms. Little is known about whether they cut the chances of serious flu complications.

Tamiflu is not normally recommended for use by pregnant women because the effects on the unborn child are unknown, according to Roche Laboratories, it’s creator.

The CDC and the World Health Organization said case histories in Mexico and the United States suggested that pregnancy was emerging as a risk factor rivaling asthma, diabetes, immuno-suppression and cardiovascular disease.

American doctors are reluctant to prescribe flu drugs for pregnant women unless they develop severe symptoms such as pneumonia, and pregnant women often are reluctant to take any medication. A pregnant woman is at higher risk from any flu because hormonal changes depress the immune system to protect the growing fetus.

The CDC recommendation emerged as it was becoming clear that the epidemic in the U.S. would mirror the epidemic in Mexico and similar rates of severe illness should be expected.
By contrast, the outbreak across Europe is spreading more slowly because the Europeans aggressively treat every suspected mild case with Tamiflu, health officials confirmed.

The U.S. now has more than 3,000 confirmed cases — two-thirds in people under 18 — but only 116 hospitalizations. Officials said they thought that the actual number of infections was much higher, and that infections were still occurring.

CDC officials said the swine flu may seem to be mild now, but they worried the virus would mutate into something more dangerous.

There is much that scientists are still learning about this flu. Many people suffering from swine flu — even those who are severely ill — do not have fever, an odd feature of the new virus that could increase the difficulty of controlling the epidemic, according to Richard Wenzel, a leading American infectious-disease expert who last week examined cases in Mexico.

Another concern is that it will combine with the seasonal flu virus that went around over the winter. That virus was not unusually virulent, but it was resistant to Tamiflu — the current first-line defense against the new swine flu.

If the two virus strains combine, it is possible that the swine flu will become resistant to Tamiflu as well, health officials worry.