Don’t Panic – Swine Flu in US and NYC

A colleague wrote today that he has “literally nothing to add to the swine flu discussion,” but blogged on it anyway.  I’m not sure that I have anything original to add either, but the public and media hysteria is reaching a fever (no pun intended) pitch over something that is not yet deserving of it, and it seems required that every preparedness practitioner comment on it.

So here’s my current take on the swine flu outbreak:  Don’t Panic

The Facts about Swine Flu in NYC

Swine flu outbreak in NYC is not spreading – according to NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene press release as of 1:30 PM today:

April 27, 2009 – The Health Department today announced that four days of close monitoring has yet to show any increase in reports of severe respiratory illness in New York City. The agency is investigating a cluster of illness at the St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where 100 students missed classes because of flu-like illness last week. Daily calls with hospitals and monitoring of admissions have yet to suggest a wider or more severe outbreak.

The virulent form of Swine Flu that has killed almost 200 in Mexico is not exactly the one that has shown up in the United States, including in the City of New York, where 100s of students at a private school in Queens have come down with a related form of influenza.  Virtually all of the St. Francis Preparatory School students who have come down with the flu recover within a day or two, and those who have not yet recovered are not reporting a worsening of the symptoms.  And there are no confirmed cases of the swine flu that originated in Mexico outside of this student population cluster in the City (though there are scattered cases elsewhere in the United States).  And although the confirmed cases of swine flu in the City is expected to go over 100, to match the number of St. Francis Prep students who have come down with flu-like symptoms but have yet to have tests confirm the diagnosis, there is no need to panic or fear a broader outbreak in the City at this time.

This information is according to a press conference and briefing just concluded held by the City of New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with the City’s Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Friedan, and a representative from the Centers from Disease Control.  Archived video will be available shortly on the homepage.

Don’t Panic

The Facts about Swine Flu

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. (source: CDC)

If you are feeling sick, have a fever, coughing and sneezing, you should stay home.  Don’t run off to the emergency room, which are often crowded with people you may easily infect.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Don’t Panic

More Information About Swine Flu

There is lots of additional good information on the web from reputable public health information sources – the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  (But not the EU Health Commissioner, whose issuance of a travel advisory for Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to the US is just nonsense at this time.)

If you want to read up – here’s some of these reputable sources:

World Health Organization:

World Health Organization Epidemic and Pandemic Alert & Response Disease Outbreak News

U.S. Government / Centers for Disease Control:

One-stop access to U.S. government swine, avian and pandemic flu information

CDC Swine Flu Homepage

Fact Sheet – Q & A: Swine Influenza & You

FactSheet – Q & A: Key Facts about Swine Influenza (Swine Flu)

Fact Sheet: Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

Brochure: Swine Influeza (Flu) in Pigs and People

Interim Guidance for Swine influenza A (H1N1): Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home

CDC Podcast on Swine Flu

City of New York:

The City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has a lot of great information posted about the swine flu outbreak in the City and generally.

NYC DOHMH homepage

Fact Sheet: Swine Flu: What New Yorkers Need to Know

NYC DOHMH Bureau of Communicable Diseases Swine Flu information

NYC Office of Emergency Management Pandemic Flu Guide

So, Don’t Panic… if you don’t panic about the swine flu you will be Living Prepared™.

2 Responses

  1. this isn’t awesome cause i live close to st. francis prep D:

  2. Don’t Panic Susu. Just because you live close to St. Francis Prep doesn’t mean you will come down with the swine flu – if you are not symptomatic and have no contact with the infected, just take normal precautions against getting infected. Wash your hands regularly; carry some hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly after being in public places which can carry infection (such as public transit system – buses, subways, etc.). There is no evidence that those infected at St. Francis Prep have spread influenza outside of their “cluster” – fellow students and family members. Most of all, don’t panic.

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