Swine Flu

    As I am sure you have all heard, there have been several cases of Swine flu in the United States. However, the numbers are small and there has been one death (to my knowedge) reported. Georgia Southern’s Health Services wants students to be aware that they are staying on top of things and are paying close attention to the news and what is going on around us dealing with the Swine flu. The following is a letter I recieved via email from the Health Services department at Georgia Southern.

Dear Georgia Southern Students, Parents, Faculty, and Staff:

In response to an intensifying outbreak in the United States and internationally caused by a new influenza virus of swine origin, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 5 last night (April 29, 2009). A Phase 5 alert is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 11:30 a.m. today 110 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu have been reported, with the first death of a two year old boy who had recently traveled from Mexico to Houston, Texas. Most of the US cases have been relatively mild, with only a handful of sufferers requiring hospital treatment. Health authorities stress that roughly 35,000 people die annually in a regular US influenza season. The latest CDC data now includes one confirmed case in Georgia (LaGrange). Other states with confirmed cases are Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York (NYC), Ohio, Texas, and most recently South Carolina. Most of the confirmed cases had recently visited Mexico, which at this time is considered the “epicenter” of the outbreak. This includes the recently confirmed cases in Georgia and South Carolina, and several suspected cases in North Carolina.

For a map showing the confirmed cases:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=p&msa=0&msid=106484775090296685271.0004681a37b713f6b5950&ll=3 2.990236,-95.800781&spn=62.421003,72.246094&z=4

For a map showing suspected and confirmed cases at colleges and universities:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=39.571822,-95.625&spn=36.948082,67.851563&z=4&msid=109878326824967605990.000468a80b7ca216e4d3a

Keeping the above facts in mind, there continues to be cause for concern, observation, and utmost precaution, but not alarm. I remain in contact with Dr. Gregory Felzien, the southeast Georgia district Director for the Office of Infectious Disease at the Bulloch County Health Department, and I will be receiving updates from him and the Center for Disease Control on a daily basis. Current recommendations are for persons with fever of 100.0 or greater and upper respiratory symptoms with onset within 7 days of travel to an affected area with confirmed swine flu, or for persons with symptoms listed below who have had close contact with an ill patient who was confirmed or suspected to have swine flu, to call or present to a healthcare provider as soon as possible for further evaluation. Students may present to Georgia Southern Health Services, and faculty and staff are to present to their primary physician. Physicians and other medical providers will determine the need for specific testing and treatment, based on the presenting history, symptoms, and findings.

The most recent CDC recommendations call for the use of respiratory masks in a health care setting as a precaution for persons presenting with upper respiratory symptoms and fever (100F or greater). Health Services is following this CDC recommendation. Other symptoms of flu, including swine flu, include fever (usually high), headache, fatigue or tiredness, body aches, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and occasionally stomach symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Fortunately, at this point two of the medications commonly used to treat flu are effective for swine flu. However, these must be used appropriately and judiciously in order to reduce the likelihood that resistance to the medications develops. Therefore, patients are encouraged not to try to pressure their providers to prescribe the medications if the provider does not feel they are warranted.

In my professional opinion, the most important continuing message is to remember these things that we can do every day to remain healthy:

  • cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you sneeze our cough
  • wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol based cleaner
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • stay home and away from work or school if you are sick

Additional information concerning the Swine Flu can be found at:
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/mitigation.htm

Sincerely,
Brian DeLoach
Brian M. DeLoach, M.D. 

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