Swine Flu Arrives in Colorado

According to state health officials there are now two confirmed cases of swine flu in Colorado, bringing the total confirmed cases in the United State to 119.

On April 29, 2009, in response to a rapid increase in outbreaks of the Swine Flu in the United States and foreign countries including Canada, Spain, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 5. The second highest level issued, a Phase 5 alert is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and the time to finalize the organization, communication and implementation for the planned mitigations measures is short.”

Symptoms of the Swine flu or 2009 H1N1 flu are similar to the symptoms of the regular seasonal flu and include fever, sore throat, headache, cough, body aches and chills and fatique.

The swine flu is thought to have originated in Mexico in March 2009 but not officially identified until April 24, 2009. Within days suspected cases were diagnosed in the U.S. and other Northern Hemisphere countries. Although it is named the “swine flu” this strain has been identified as containing four different strains of the influenza virus including one endemic in humans, one endemic in birds and two endemic in pigs and is spread through human to human contact and no evidence indicates contamination through eating pork. The Swine flu is now also called “2009 H1N1 flu”.

It is predicted that a vaccine will not be available for months. Federal officials have said it would take until January or late November at the earliest to manufacture enough of the vaccine to protect all Americans and even years to produce enough vaccine for global demands.

The biggest challenge to timely vaccinations is that most manufactures rely on fifty year old technology to produce flu vaccines. While Federal officials have invested years and more than a billion dollars moving vaccine production to more modern production methods, the changes are coming too slowly to meet the demand of the 2009 swine flu and regular seasonal flu vaccines.

While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) web site advises that the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands can often help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Other advise from the CDC includes:
1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away in the trash can. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Especially after you cough or sneeze.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

More information visit PandemicFlu.gov.