Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu: Summary of Weekend Developments

Never doubt that the world can change in a day. This story broke on Thursday and exploded on Friday. Now it's 48 hours later -- what's changed?

The U.S. is reporting 20 known cases in California, Texas, Ohio, Kansas, and New York. One person has been hospitalized. On the international front, France, Canada (6), Spain (7), Israel (1), Brazil (1), and New Zealand (10) have joined the club in fighting suspected or confirmed swine flu infections. Mexico is reporting 103 suspected fatalities and over 1,324 ill.

In Texas, officials are awaiting CDC confirmation on eight new cases -- 3 in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and 5 in Guadalupe County north of San Antonio, where there are already 2 confirmed cases.

As far as prevention and treatment, it appears that the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza are effective in shortening the duration of illness -- but this season's flu shot is probably not effective in providing any protection. The incubation period is reportedly short -- 24 to 48 hours.

The government is advising standard flu precautions -- frequent hand washing, avoid touching your face, etc. Unfortunately these are the sort of precautions that must be consistently and thoroughly practiced in order to have any preventive effect.

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