The Flu.gov web site, presented by the United States Government, provides a variety of forms of information about the flu. The site presents information in several areas such as the seasonal flu, general information, outbreak monitoring, health and safety, and information related to testing, medications, and vaccines.
There is information related to many more areas associated with the flu as well, to include information about animals and birds, travel, and information related to the media. The site contains up-to-date information on the subject of the H1N1 flu and the activities of the government to combat the flu.
In late March and early April of this year, cases of the H1N1 flu virus were reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Every state in America has reported cases of the H1N1 flu since then that have involved infection of people. Part of the response on the part of the federal government has been by the Department of Health and Human Services, who issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration on April 26th. By July 23rd of this year, Secretary Sebelius had signed a renewal of the determination that a public health emergency exists.
June eleventh found the World Health Organization (WHO) signaling that a global pandemic of novel influenza A (H1N1) is underway; they raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6. The action on the part of the WHO is a reflection of the spread of the new H1N1 virus and not a sign of the severity of the illness that is caused by the virus itself. Right now, greater than seventy nations have reported cases of this flu infection; there are ongoing community-level outbreaks of H1N1 in many parts of the world today.
Since the declaration by the WHO, this new H1N1 virus continues to spread and the number of countries reporting cases of it has nearly doubled. The Southern Hemisphere's usual flu season has already begun and countries are reporting that the new flu is both spreading and causing illness along with the regular, seasonal flu viruses. In America, H1N1 flu continued through the summer with both localized and intense outbreaks. America continues to report the largest number of H1N1 cases of any nation in the world, although most of the people who have become sick have recovered without medical treatment.
H1N1 flu viruses usually do not infect people; however, sporadic human infections of H1N1 have happened. Usually, these cases happen in people who have had direct exposure to pigs. Human-to-human transmission of the H1N1 virus can occur; it is thought to happen in much the same way that the seasonal flu spreads, largely through sneezing or coughing. People can become infected through touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching either their nose or mouth.
The CDC has, in the past, received reports of about on human H1N1 flu virus infection every year or two in America, although from December of 2005 through February of 2009, twelve cases of human H1N1 infection were reported. H1N1 flu viruses are not transmitted through food products. You cannot get the H1N1 flu from eating either pork or pork products.
The symptoms of the H1N1 flu in people are very similar to those presented by the regular, seasonal flu. These symptoms include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people experience a sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea. In order to diagnose H1N1 flu, a respiratory specimen is usually collected within the first four or five days of the person's illness when the person is most likely to be contagious. Some people, children in particular, can be infectious for ten days or more. Confirmation of the H1N1 virus requires that the specimen be sent to the CDC for lab testing.
Antiviral medications can make the illness milder and make people feel better quicker. These medications can also prevent serious H1N1 flu complications. Antiviral medications work best if they are started as soon as possible after the person becomes ill. These medications may not work if they are started more than forty-eight hours after the onset of the flu. Antiviral medications may also be used to prevent the flu when they are administered to someone who is not sick who has been near to someone who does have the flu. When antiviral medications are used to prevent the flu they are approximately seventy to ninety-percent effective. The number of days that they are used varies depending upon the person's particular situation.
At this time, there are four different antiviral medications that are licensed for use in America for treatment of the flu. The CDC recommends using Tamiflu (oseltamivir), or Relenza (zanamivir) for either the treatment or prevention of H1N1 flu. Two other antivirals, amantadine and rimantadine, are both ineffective for treating the most recent H1N1 flu viruses in human beings.
There are some different things you can do to prepare both yourself and persons around you for this flu pandemic. Should the pandemic become severe, it is important to think about the challenges you may face. Go through a Planning Checklist and make sure that you plan for the impact of the flu pandemic. Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
A flu pandemic can come and go in waves. Each of these waves may last for a period of six to eight weeks. A severe flu pandemic could find nations dealing with high levels of illness, death, economic losses, and social disruption. Everyday life could be disrupted because large numbers of people could become ill in many places at the same time. The impact could involve everything from school and business closures to interruption of public transportation, food delivery, and basic services.
Large numbers of people around the world may need different forms of medical care. Hospitals, clinics, and other places where health care is provided could become overwhelmed. The result could be a shortage of hospital beds, staff, ventilators and additional medical supplies. Non-traditional sites such as schools may be pressed into service to cope with medical demands.
The Flu.gov web site contains much more information regarding the flu. The site approaches topics such economic impacts related to the flu, information for professionals, as well as business and community planning. During this particular H1N1 flu season, it would be wise to examine the Flu.gov Web Site