As of Sunday, April 26, 2009, the number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the US has reached 20. In view of the current situation, the federal government has declared a public health emergency, according to major news networks.
However, health officials emphasize that there is no cause for panic. According to the New York Times, the emergency declaration frees government resources to be used toward diagnosing or preventing additional cases, and releases money for more antiviral drugs.
The breakdown of the 20 confirmed cases of swine flu are as follows:
- 8 in New York
- 7 in California
- 2 in Kansas
- 2 in Texas
- 1 in Ohio
The swine flu could possibly have come from Mexico where about 1,300 people have been infected and resulted in 80 fatalities.
Canada has also confirmed 4 cases in Nova Scotia. Other countries which have reported suspected but unconfirmed cases are New Zealand, Hong Kong and Spain. Many countries are watching out and are considering about travel restrictions to and from North America. So far, the cases in the US and Canada presented with very mild symptoms and only resulted in one hospitalization. However, the health officials all over the world, coordinated by the World Health Organization, are on alert for a possible pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set up a site to inform the public about swine flu:
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. From December 2005 through February 2009, a total of 12 human infections with swine influenza were reported from 10 states in the United States. Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified. An investigation into these cases is ongoing.
Here are some recommendations from the CDC on how to protect yourself from swine flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the seasonal flu and “include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.”
Swine flu is mainly transmitted from person to person through coughing and sneezing. It is advisable to stay away from people with flu symptoms. If you experience symptoms, stay at home. If the symptoms worsen, see your doctor.
To learn more about swine flu, check out this podcast with CDC’s Dr. Joe Bresee.