Military officials monitor swine flu

By Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kim Bradley: 27th Special Operations Medical Group

The Center for Disease Control released an alert regarding human cases of swine flu in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Cases have also been reported in Kansas and New York. Typically a disease of pigs, people do not normally get swine flu; however, the virus can be transmitted by infected pigs or people.

The CDC and local and state health agencies are working to investigate this situation. The virus is contagious, but it is not known at this time how easily it spreads between people or how severe an infection might be. Swine flu is not transmitted by eating pork or pork products. Seasonal flu vaccine is not effective against swine flu.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to those of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue; diarrhea and vomiting may occur. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Report to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911 if the following occur:

• Severe breathing difficulty, very rapid breathing, or shortness of breath

• Severe pain, pressure, or tightness in the chest; bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, or nail beds

• Loss of consciousness, mental confusion, severe dizziness or loss of coordination

• A young child who will not wake up or interact with others

• Inability to keep small amounts of fluids down; a young child who will not drink fluids

• Severe, persistent vomiting or diarrhea; severe pain in the abdomen

• Fever greater than 104 degrees F

Individuals with the flu symptoms and any of the following should be evaluated by medical personnel, but will generally not require emergency care.

• Moderate breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest

• Fatigue, dizziness, weakness, irritable and does not want to be held

• Flu-like symptoms which improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough

• A young child with fever and a rash

• Fever greater than 101 degrees F, but less than 104 degrees F

If you have mild flu-like symptoms call 784-2778 to schedule an appointment or speak with a health care professional here. A provider is on call after-hours and weekends. Individuals with mild symptoms typically do not require medical care.

Over-the-counter medications help to relieve symptoms as the body’s natural defense mechanisms fight the infection. People with influenza are potentially contagious as long as they are ill and for up to seven days following illness onset. Young children may be contagious for longer periods.

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.

To prevent illness and reduce the spread of the virus:

• Cover your nose and mouth with tissue or upper shirt sleeve when you cough or sneeze

• Wash your hands often with soap and water; use alcohol based hand sanitizers if unable to wash

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth of others

• Avoid close contact with sick people; stay away from others if you are ill

For questions or comments contact the 27th Special Operations Medical Group Community Relations Officer, Roberta Williams, at 784-0784.

To speak with your Primary Care Manager, call 784-2778.