--Flu Testing Services, Treatment and Prevention Available--
MINNEAPOLIS, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- MinuteClinic, the pioneer and largest provider of retail health care centers in the United States, is prepared to answer consumers' questions about the swine flu (H1N1) and provide rapid testing services, treatment and prevention for all types of influenza when medically appropriate. MinuteClinic is coordinating with local health departments to establish working relationships for surveillance of swine flu cases.
Located inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in 25 states, MinuteClinic health care centers are staffed by masters-prepared nurse practitioners who specialize in family health care and are trained to diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for acute family illness, including the flu and other conditions with flu-like symptoms. Seasonal influenza A is still active in most states.
In addition, MinuteClinic practitioners are updated daily on the latest World Health Organizations (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and protocols for diagnosing and treating swine flu.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza that regularly infects pigs but does not normally infect humans. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal influenza. The flu is differentiated from the common cold or spring allergy by a dry irritating cough without phlegm and the rapid development of fever (greater than 100 degrees F), chills and muscle aches, fatigue and headaches.
A rapid flu test to check for influenza A can be administered at MinuteClinic, but it can't diagnose the swine flu strain specifically. The test - administered as a simple nasal swab- takes five minutes and results are available immediately.
Any patient testing positive for influenza A who is suspected of having swine flu, such as those who have traveled to Mexico recently or live in a community with confirmed swine flu cases, will be treated. Any cases categorized as probable swine flu would also be reported to the local health department to coordinate confirmatory testing.
"Patients with positive influenza A test results can be treated by MinuteClinic nurse practitioners with the anti-viral medication oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) to help them recover more quickly if they are seen within 48 hours of being symptomatic," said Troyen Brennan, MD, CVS Caremark executive vice president and chief medical officer. "These are the same anti-viral medications the CDC recommends for the treatment of the swine strain."
Anti-viral medication may also be prescribed for family members or other close contacts of anyone infected by the flu to help prevent the spread of the virus, added Brennan.
Consumers can protect themselves against the flu and other viruses and avoid spreading germs in public locations by remembering to: cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and immediately disposing it in the trash; wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based cleanser; refrain from touching the eyes, nose or mouth; avoid close contact with sick people; and stay home from school or work if they are infected with the flu.
CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are following the CDC recommendations for infection control at stores and clinics to prevent the spread of any influenza virus, including swine flu. This may include the use of masks, gowns and gloves when appropriate.
MinuteClinic health care centers are open seven days a week. Go to www.minuteclinic.com/swineflu or call 866-389-ASAP for hours, locations and information.
Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic is a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS), the No. 1 provider of prescriptions and related health care services in the nation. MinuteClinic launched the first retail health care centers in the United States in 2000 and is the first provider to establish a national presence with about 500 locations in 25 states. By creating a health care delivery model that responds to consumer demand, MinuteClinic makes access to high-quality medical treatment easier for more Americans. The company has generated more than 3.5 million patient visits, with a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating. A recognized leader in the patient-centric health care movement, MinuteClinic consistently brings innovation to the marketplace and sets new standards for clinical quality that exceed the national guidelines established for store-based clinics by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). MinuteClinic is the first retail health care provider to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the national evaluation and certifying agency for nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. For more information, visit www.MinuteClinic.com.
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