LOS ANGELES, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The human swine flu outbreak is growing in the United States and internationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 10 cases of the swine flu in California alone.
Dr. Ritu Chopra has spent more than a decade studying emergency medicine, and has dealt with many atypical and typical infectious disease processes ranging from flesh eating bacteria to serious influenza outbreaks. 36,000 people die from the influenza virus each year, so being prepared and knowledgeable is important.
"No one can prevent a pandemic from happening, but we can work to minimize its impact," says Dr. Chopra. "It takes a week to 10 days to run its course and it spreads fast."
- Practice Good Health Habits: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently during the day. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Keep Workspaces Clean: Sanitize surfaces such as desktops, phones, and computer keyboards.
- Stop The Spread: Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.
In response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 4. A Phase 4 Alert is characterized by confirmed person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus able to cause "community-level" outbreaks. With his in-depth knowledge of the immune system, Dr. Chopra says the increase in the alert phase indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased.
"The swine flu does not present symptoms that are much different from other strains of the flu virus," says Chopra. "There are certain characteristics to look out for, and making a phone call to your doctor should be your first step if you are feeling ill."
- Coughing, sneezing, fever, chills, with vomiting and diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing, dizziness; confusion
- Bluish skin indicating a need for quick attention
- Children who are abnormally sluggish and sleepy, irritable, or have fever or rash
Dr. Chopra notes that this year's flu vaccine will not protect against the swine flu. He recommends avoiding unnecessary contact with live pigs.
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