Friday, June 19, 2009

H1N1 (swine) flu – it’s back in Minnesota

Actually, it never went away – which is a bit weird.

We’re seeing a fair amount of it in Minnesota.  This blurb came from the University of Minnesota and it’s not bad as these things go.

Emergency Preparedness : Academic Health Center Office of Emergency Response

As I’m sure you’ve been hearing in the news, spread of the novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) is increasingly common and occurring throughout Minnesota. I thought it would be a good time to provide you with an update.

Currently all patients in Minnesota with flu symptoms such as fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms are considered likely to have the H1N1 novel influenza virus. The Minnesota Department of Health is now only conducting diagnostic testing on severe, hospitalized cases of possible influenza.

Given the increasing spread of H1N1, this is a good time to be reminded of the following:

  • If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home. You will be considered infectious for 7 days after the onset of symptoms or 24 hours after you are symptom-free, whichever is longer.
  • Use excellent hand washing techniques and cover your cough. It is our best first line of defense against the spread of influenza.
  • If you are pregnant, immune-suppressed or have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema, you are at increased risk for severe flu or flu complications. You should contact your health care provider if you have flu symptoms or have been exposed to people with flu symptoms.
  • Keep hard surfaces such as workstations, door handles and bathroom surfaces clean using household disinfectant.

The following links can also help answer any questions you may have:

Pretty good, but their list of increased risk is not complete. This one is from the MN Dept of Health

  • Children aged less than 5 years, particularly those less than 2 years of age;
  • Persons aged 65 years or older;
  • Women who are pregnant;
  • Adults and children who have chronic health conditions including chronic lung problems such as asthma, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and certain blood diseases;
  • Adults and children who have a lowered immune system from medications or chronic health conditions such as HIV;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.

The implication, not explicitly stated, is that if you’re not at increased risk you’re supposed to stay home.

The CDC and departments of health need to do a much better job of providing guidance about home management of H1N1 flu -- including a description of the expected course and instructions to contact a physician if the disease is NOT following the expected course.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think the CDC has blown this one. We’re just lucky this flu hasn’t been unusually severe – so far. Though any influenza is nasty enough.

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