Swine flu

I’ve been hearing apocryphal accounts lately of how rampant swine flu is here in Central Oregon, and while not disbelieving them, it’s hard to point out any hard figures—’til now. The Source has a blog post today on this very topic.

The swine flu situation in Deschutes County is more serious than the local news media so far have reported, judging by an e-mail County Communicable Disease Manager Shannon Dames sent to health care professionals today.

Under the subject line “H1N1 Cases are way up!” Dames’s e-mail states:

“I am sure this is not news to you, given what you are seeing in your own clinics, but to be sure we are all in the loop:

  • Schools are seeing higher absentee rates – some up to 25%
  • The Bend and Redmond emergency rooms are packed – 44 ILI [influenza-like illness] admissions in two days early this week, and 22 positive results [for H1N1 flu] from the State lab.
  • We are getting reports that staffing [has] become a concern at some of our medical locations with people having to leave due to onset of ILI.”

There’s also not much vaccine to be had: there’s "some out there" but right now it’s a waiting game.

However, so as not to inflame any fears needlessly, let’s review this post I made back in April:

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.

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.

I highlighted the "recovered" portion there, but obviously there have been some swine flu-related deaths that are owed more to extra circumstances than just getting the flu. From all accounts, H1N1 is a milder form of the "regular" influenza outbreaks that happen every year. So if you get swine flu, you’ll be sick for a few days and (most likely) be just fine.

The number one thing you can do to prevent catching it? Wash your hands regularly.

One thought on “Swine flu

  1. You may prevent catching it, and you may prevent having your hands be a vector for someone else catching it.

    Frequent washing of hands will always be a great way to control viruses and other diseases in our society. With that in mind, it would be useful to do one thing:

    Make washing our hands as easy and fun as possible.

    It turns out that foaming soap is a great way to do that. The foamers from Method ( http://www.methodhome.com ) work very well and are sold at Target stores in my area. I fill them with diluted liquid soaps from Trillium Organics ( trilliumorganics.com ). They are very nice and use oil-based surfactants rather than SLS. The only thing you have to figure out is how much to dilute the soap. Somewhere around 1 part soap to 8 parts of water is pretty good.

    Almost all bar and liquid soap uses SLS so it’ll be a familiar smell. I’ve gotten to the point where SLS is a pretty unfamiliar smell for me; I like it less and less. It reminds me a bit of the bygone days when smoking was allowed inside in public places. Today, it’s very shocking if one smells cigarette smoke indoors.

    If you want your kids to wash hands frequently, have them pick out soaps that they like. Ditto for adults.

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