About that swine flu…

The swine flu is all over the news these days, and while it hasn’t reached Oregon yet, that hasn’t stopped Deschutes County and BMC from issuing notices and information regarding it. The best defense, of course, is to stay informed.

From Deschutes County:

Public health officials in Oregon are stepping up surveillance for a new strain of influenza known as swine flu, after 40 cases have been confirmed in multiple states along with the numerous cases in other countries including Mexico and Canada. No known cases have been confirmed in Central Oregon or the State.

Keep reading

In the tri-county region, the flu season is expiring. Still, in light of the appearance of the new strain, public health directors from Deschutes (Scott Johnson), Crook (Muriel Delavergne-Brown), and Jefferson Counties (Jeff Davis) are working together on preparation and have been planning for this type of event over the past few years. The three county officials are carefully monitoring the situation and have increased surveillance efforts for human cases of swine flu in the region, and will continue to provide information to the public.

Three important steps to prevent the spread of swine flu:
1. Protect yourself and others by washing your hands often
2. Cover your mouth with something other than your hand when you cough
3. If you are sick, see your doctor and try not to expose others to your illness

Illness caused by this new strain of flu has the same symptoms as other strains of flu including fever, lack of energy and appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, and can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The regional Public Health Departments are requesting that health care providers arrange for testing of patients who have influenza-like illness, particularly if they have recently traveled to areas where cases have been confirmed and they are requesting increased swine flu surveillance in the region.

Swine flu history
Swine influenza is a respiratory illness related to seasonal influenza. Swine flu is commonly seen in pigs, although occasionally human infections also occur. The most common route of exposure for humans is through contact with pigs; however, none of the ill people are known to have had such contact or link to people who do.

Those who have had swine flu in the United States have experienced mild illness, and have recovered. US hospitals have not reported an increase in serious respiratory illness. All cases were detected through routine surveillance for seasonal influenza.

Although this new strain of flu is called swine flu, humans do not have to have physical contact with pigs to get infected, and swine flu is not spread from eating pork or pork products. Regular flu vaccines do not generally protect against swine flu.

For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/investigation.htm . You may also find additional swine flu information at the Public Contact & Disease Reporting line (541) 322-7418.

From Bend Memorial Clinic:

Bend Memorial Clinic Takes Proactive Stance in Flu Preparation and Education

Bend Memorial Clinic has taken a proactive stance in helping to keep Central Oregonians, employees and patients of BMC as informed as possible about the recent global outbreak of swine flu A (H1N1). 

Dr. Sean Rogers, Medical Director of BMC and an Internal Medicine Physician explains the proactive stance. “We want to ensure we’re taking the best care possible of our patients, our team members and our community and have begun a proactive education process within the clinic and in the area. We feel this is important, not only at this time, but for the future as well.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, the hardest hit country has been Mexico with over a hundred deaths and 1600+ cases, but other countries involved include New Zealand, Spain, Canada, and the US.  Twenty cases have been confirmed in the US, the majority of which have come from California and Texas.  No cases have been reported in Oregon.

Dr. Rogers continues, “First and foremost, we feel there is no cause for undue alarm.  However, there is cause for heightened awareness and this is the perfect opportunity for everyone to become more educated about this potential threat.”

The CDC is an excellent resource for information on this topic and information can be accessed online easily at www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

Some important points:

  • Seasonal Influenza A and B viruses (“regular” flu) continue to circulate at low levels in North America
  • Swine flu is now known to be transmissible from human-to-human
  • Swine flu symptoms are similar to regular flu symptoms (high fever, malaise, dry cough, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Swine flu cross reacts with Influenza A rapid tests – it can only be confirmed as swine flu by state labs
  • A “suspected” case of swine flu is defined as: a person with acute respiratory illness who has had close contact with a person who has confirmed swine flu or who has had recent travel to areas with confirmed cases.
  • The infectious period for a confirmed case is 7 days

At Bend Memorial Clinic, specific precautions have been put into place or were already in place, such as continuing the best infection control for patient and staff safety – frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizer gel. Patients with fevers and cough who come into the clinic will be given masks to wear as recommended by the CDC, and reminded to use tissues and gel in the lobbies of each of our waiting rooms.

Dr. Randall Jacobs, Urgent Care Physicians reiterates the symptoms to look for and what to do if symptoms arise or persist. “We feel that patients who are not feeling well, and are showing symptoms of the flu such as fever, cough, aches, malaise, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea – stay out of public places and not go to school or work. They are encouraged to seek medical attention at their primary care physician, urgent care centers or emergency room. We have an internal response team and will make ongoing recommendations for patient care, scheduling and disease surveillance. This team includes a wide spectrum of clinicians, administrative team members, infectious disease experts and physicians consistent with our TotalCare commitment.”

Patients who come to Bend Memorial Clinic exhibiting flu-like symptoms may be asked to follow an extra measure of safety for other patients, including the use of masks and there is an ample amount of hand sanitizer and tissues throughout the clinic for patient use. In addition, we are ensuring we have access to anti-viral drugs so that they may be prescribed by their physician,” Dr. Jacobs continues.

For more questions, please access the CDC’s website or contact your personal care physician.