After seeing Me's post I decided to offer my two cents. I may not be a doctor, but since I work at a healthcare company, I've had to stay way updated with this topic but have found it more interesting to write about other topics. So I'll offer my two cents and any question you may have regarding the H1N1 virus, feel free to ask away.
First off, the situation.
If you've been hiding under a rock, this need not apply to you because odds are you won't be infected and I wouldn't even begin to understand at to how you have access to a computer. BS aside, the situation is this, a new flu strain has developed and atypically for flu strains became apparent and escalated to pandemic levels in less than four months. This new strain is a combination of avian, human and swine flus but since they first discovered this thinking the culprit was a pig farm in Mexico, well the pig got the blame.
What does this mean?
Simple. You can't get swine flu from eating pork products and unless you frequent infected pigs, which seems highly unlikely at this phase, barring people who like to take it home to the bacon, you won't get infected from interacting with Babe, the cute pig from Charlotte's web or your resident Porky.
Have many people been infected by the swine flu?
Yes. By now there have been at least (INSERT NUMBER) confirmed and (INSERT NUMBER) suspected cases.
Why are the numbers so different?
Since the strain is new, places that can effectively determine results have been limited and a vaccine is not available.
What do you mean a vaccine is not available? What about TamiFlu?
Tamiflu is prescribed to people as a preventive measure but works best when a person has the flue virus. It lessens the symptoms but does not cure.
So what does that mean?
Tamiflu and the other flu medicine available that is even less effective in curing the strain do serve their purpose, but they are riding high on media hype and low to medium on effectivity. Don't take my word for it, search around.
But can I still take Tamiflu?
If it helps you sleep at night, sure, why not. Just know that for every person that over vaccinates, the strain will only grow stronger.
Where did you come up with that?
It's pure logic relating to flu strains per se. We are not in flu season so that this thing even showed up on the radar is a viral miracle, albeit a shitty one. The real problem will come along when flu season kicks in for various reasons. 1.) People already die from the flu every year. At best, 100,000 kick the bucket because of regular flu every year. 2.) Having a new flu will make determining which kind of flu you have a virtual adventure. 3.) When flu season starts, all hell will break loose. Don't take my word for it, just read the news from all over. The very nature of this pandemic means that it's spreading from person to person, and this is happening when temperatures are soaring and should be high enough to not allow the virus to propagate (that's why most people don't come down with the flu during the summer, it's all migration and temperature here). 4.) Taking meds will always and forever make diseases stronger, more resillient, and more resistant to anything you throw at them. It takes the new information of the antiviral, adds it to the equation and eventually strengthens most times. The only person SURE to benefit from you taking tamiflu are its stock holders. Again, this isn't myth, this isn't speculation. Search around for your own results and you'll find that findings for Tamiflu inspire you to take the medicine about as much a five dollar male hooker with a crystal ball.
Can I die If i get the strain?
Yes. But you can also die from ANY flu strain. All you need is the right conditions and your own body will self destruct.
What do you mean self destruct?
When you get a viral infection (like influenza), your body naturally reacts to it and tries to ward it off. It does this by producing mucous to flush it out and raising body temp enough to either burn it or sweat it out, literally. What's happened with many flu strains is that your body over reacts, promotes a super high fever, and health complications due to this fever can cause a number of adverse reactions that mean you will be weakened, and even more susceptible to another type of infection.
So if I don't get a fever, I'm in the clear?
I didn't say that. Fever is just one of the symptoms. Body ache, coughing, nausea and all the wonderful things typical of a really bad case of the flu are up for grabs in symptoms you can be afflicted with, which means complications arising from those other conditions are just as serious.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
Who knows WHERE it is safe to travel. More reports have been found in the US but it could just be a better health system at work or the need to report every single case. I don't know. What I do know is that there have been cases in the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain, UK, New Zealand and pretty much anywhere you can point on a globe, hence the name pandemic.
So because there is a pandemic that means a billion people will die?
The reality is that people will die and probably more people will die from flu in general in the next two years than is normally the case. That's what the World Health Organization is expecting, and so should you. But the word pandemic is so very effective at instilling fear, that we forget what it means. A pandemic does not refer to the devastation caused by a specific virus, it refers to the ease with which it propagates. We're at level six out of a possible six, but though the situation is very serious, it isn't supposed to be armageddon.
So what does level 6 pandemic refer to?
It means that the strain has been seen in great numbers in various places and has achieved the unfortunate ability of transmitting from person to person. It doesn't mean it's the deadliest virus in the world and to be honest, we have still to see just what this strain is capable of.
So what can I do to stay healthy?
Pretty logical if you ask any surgeon. Wash your hands.
You mean washing my hands is going to save my life? You expect me to believe that?
Yes. Ask ANY doctor that has worked in this type of situation and they will all agree that higher levels of hygiene will trump ANYTHING a pharmaceutical can produce on short or long notice. Since this virus is spreading via contact with people, hand sanitizers and frequent hand cleansing is the order of the day. If you see someone fluish around the eyes, not to be a total prick, but don't hang out too often with them and if you do, try to keep at least 6 feet distance from yourself if you engage in conversation. Also, when you use hand sanitizer, make sure to use a good amount and rub it in for at least 15 seconds. Otherwise, you're just kidding yourself. If you have flu symptoms, let your supervisor know and honestly consider taking two days off to see if anything develops. Try and use disinfectant wipes in your work area even if you seem Monkish. Also, if you have to sneeze, cover your mouth and try to get sanitizer as fast as possible. The virus is obtained through eye, nose and mouth contact so try to do your best to avoid over touching these spots during work hours.
Where can I go if I want more information, or the real deal?
Me's links are good, especially the www.cdc.gov
You can also check out:
And online newspapers like the Guardian from the UK, la Vanguardia from Spain and other national papers so you get different takes on the same topic.
Hope this helps, and if you have any question you think I might be able to answers, my email is email@example.com
Cheers, and may the flu NOT be with you