Swine Flu vs. Seasonal Flu: Be Prepared

Aug 13, 2009

It hit in April but continues to wreak havoc locally and globally. H1N1 -- also known as swine flu -- has sickened over 43,000 people nationwide and it’s not disappearing anytime soon, says University of Cincinnati infectious diseases expert Judith Feinberg, MD.

“There have been continued outbreaks throughout the United States this spring and summer,” Feinberg says. “Currently, there are huge outbreaks in Argentina and the Southern Hemisphere, in general. I think it’s safe to say it’s going to hit harder everywhere this fall when the true flu season rolls around.”

Feinberg says that usually influenza is most dangerous for the very young and the very old—groups that have weaker immune systems and are unable to fight off infections.

But with H1N1, there is no built-up immunity in the population, and she predicts there will be more young, healthy adults struck by the illness.

“H1N1 is an unusual , with elements of avian, swine and ,” she says. “There have been ranges of disease from mild to lethal, and we are expecting to see more.”

But how do the symptoms of H1N1 differ from those of the regular flu—which affects 25 to 50 million Americans yearly—and what precautions can one take to avoid infection?

Feinberg says symptoms for both H1N1 and seasonal influenza seem to be quite similar and include:

· Sore throat
· Fever
· Headache
· Muscle ache and soreness
· Congestion
· Cough
· and , linked more closely to H1N1 but can be experienced with either bug

“Primarily, influenza is airborne, and both viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of your nose and mouth,” Feinberg says. “It is very important to keep your hands germ-free with frequent washing.”

Eric Warm, MD, a primary care doctor with UC Physicians, states that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can fight many types of bacteria, including multidrug-resistant pathogens, but are not always the best option for hand cleansing.

”Alcohol-based gels are not appropriate for use when hands are visibly dirty or contaminated,” he says.

In addition to washing hands frequently, Feinberg and Warm say there are other ways to take everyday actions to stay healthy, including:

· Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throwing the tissue in the trash after you use it
· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth
· Staying home if you get sick
· Seeing your general practitioner as soon as possible if you experience symptoms to avoid further spread of the illness

Concern over the risk of more infection is prompting the rush to develop a vaccine against the emerging H1N1 flu strain.

Researchers at UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are working to test two experimental vaccines. They are recruiting volunteers this month.

“Vaccines are the most powerful public health tool of any kind for control of influenza,” says David Bernstein, MD, professor of pediatrics at UC, director of at Cincinnati Children’s and lead local investigator for the trials. “Working with the National Institutes of Health, we will be testing vaccines from two manufacturers who have been working hard to develop a vaccine that can be available for the upcoming flu season.

Testing includes regular seasonal flu vaccines, along with the two experimental H1N1 vaccines. Researchers also hope to determine whether the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines can be given in combination or within a short period of time.

“We need to confirm that the H1N1 and seasonal vaccine will be safe and effective if given at the same time or closely together,” Bernstein says, noting that the seasonal vaccine will probably be available first and that people should get the shot as soon as possible.

In late July, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said those first in line for the vaccine should be (in order of importance):

· Pregnant women
· Health care workers in contact with infants under 6 months old and emergency medical services workers
· Children and young adults, ages 6 months through 24 years of age
· People under 65 years old with underlying medical conditions
· The remainder of the population

“The unusual aspect to swine flu is that it can strike younger, otherwise healthy adults,” Feinberg says. “ vaccinations will help in protecting against the virus.”

Provided by University of Cincinnati (news : web)

Explore further: Philippines boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Govt calls for volunteers to test swine flu shots

Jul 22, 2009

(AP) -- The race is on: The government and vaccine makers are seeking thousands of volunteers, from babies to the elderly, to roll up their sleeves for the first swine flu shots - to test whether a new vaccine really will ...

Officials say swine flu vaccine may not be ready by fall

Jun 12, 2009

As the World Health Organization declared a global flu pandemic Thursday, raising the alert to its highest level, federal health officials said it was unclear whether an effective vaccine would be available by fall.

WHO meets on production of swine flu vaccine

May 14, 2009

(AP) -- As swine flu cases hit 6,500 worldwide, World Health Organization officials were meeting with vaccine manufacturers and other experts in Geneva on Thursday to discuss making a vaccine to fight the virus.

Recommended for you

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

10 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 20, 2009
Well cr*p. I turned 65 just in time to get cut out of the priority list for the flu vaccine for what could be the biggest epidemic in a few decades. Just my luck.

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.