Archive for September, 2009

H1N1

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Of course just after my last post I would hear on the national news (and by forwarded email) of a young healthy teenager who tragically died from the H1N1 virus.  As disturbing and gut-wrenching such stories always are, it is also disturbing to me how the media portrays the event.

The story does include comments on how this is very rare, that most cases of these illnesses will be self-limiting and mild to moderate, but that is only briefly mentioned.  As presented, it will increase fear and demands for stock piling of anti-viral medicines like Tamiflu (that have minor effects on the illness at best) and demands for the vaccine from many who have lower risks.

Tens of thousands of deaths will happen each year from the regular strain of influenza, and many others from other infections.  It makes little sense to fixate on this one more than the others, or the 40 thousands deaths each year from car accidents or those who pass away from cardiovascular troubles from heart attacks to strokes.  While H1N1 deserves our attention, it’s important to stay focused on the big picture and overall risks and take care of things that we can influence with healthy lifestyle and common sense.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

So far there has been no exciting news to share at our office.  This is a good thing of course.  While I have seen some illnesses now and then, they have not been either concerning or serious.  This happens every September as people return to school.  So far I have not seen any influenza like illness, but it is just a matter of time.

Apparently the H1N1 vaccine will soon be made available.  Our office continues to pursue options for getting a supply, but so far we have not been succesful.  If you meet the criteria for those at greater risk and can get the shot, please do and ideally get the shot and not the nasal spray where studies have shown less protective benefits.  More to follow…

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Greetings to my new blog!  This is the first of what I hope to be many other posts in the future.  I am trying to learn about this program, I have a “WordPress for Dummies” book from the library, and no doubt this will be a work in progress.

It seems that the most pressing questions I have had recently revolve around the flu illness, vaccination, and medicine (Tamiflu) so here are some of my thoughts.

Influenza is the virus that causes this illness.  It is not the same as the stomach flu with vomiting and diarrhea, and this flu typically causes no such problems (except in the very young sometimes).   It can cause a horrific illness often with very bad body aches, headaches, fever to 102 range, and a cough that can be severe.  If that does not sound like fun to you, then get the flu shot which is now available.  True, it may not cover the strain this year or offer complete protection, but the potential benefit makes it worthwhile in my opinion for nearly everyone.

The H1N1 is also influenza, but a different strain and latest mutation and is the called the “swine” flu in the news.  Vaccines for that have recently been approved by the FDA and will (hopefully) soon be available.  It is very unlikely I will have any at my office although we keep inquiring about the availability.  This is a second flu shot that may require a “booster” shot as well.  It looks like single shots may offer enough protection from early studies however.

Tamiflu is a medicine for the illness but has very limited value.  It makes the illness a day or two shorter at best and only when used very early on in the illness.

Prevention otherwise is the key.  If you can’t or will not take the vaccine, try and limit exposure risks.  Avoid anyone with a cough illness when possible as this is an illness easily breathed in from those who are ill.  It is not really by touching anything although good hand washing is always a good idea as well.

If the illness happens, then usual care is best with plenty of fluids, rest and medicines for symptoms.  For more serious illness, a visit here is a good idea of course.