Saturday, May 2, 2009

More on Sac'to Homeless & swine flu

As readers of this blog will know, SacHo is concerned that anything approaching a pandemic of swine flu might have dire consequences in our homeless community for three reasons: (1) cold and flu pass through the community quickly, since we exist in close quarters, (2) officials may restrict our movement to a greater extent to contain the flu and (3) since we are homeless, we suffer during illness more than others and may need hospitilization.

These words in a New York Times Online article, today, are encouraging:

The disease is expected to drop off during the summer, because flu viruses do not thrive in heat and humidity, but it could rebound in the fall and winter.
But these words made me worried, again:

The World Health Organization said that the flu vaccine given to millions of people for the most recent flu season appeared ineffective against the A(H1N1) strain [better known as "swine flu"], but that health officials were talking to manufacturers about creating a new swine-flu vaccine, which would take four to six months to produce.
What flu is and its symptoms

The flu is a contagious infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus.

The flu usually begins abruptly, with a fever between 102°F and 106°F. (An adult typically has a lower fever than a child.) Other common symptoms include a flushed face, body aches, chills, headache, nausea, and lack of energy. Some people have dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last 5 days.

Somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase.

The most prominent of the respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore throat and headache. Nasal discharge (runny nose) and sneezing are common. These symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4 - 7 days. Sometimes, the fever returns. Cough and tiredness usually last for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.

What to do if you get the flu
If you have mild illness, take these steps:
  • Rest as much as you can
  • Take medicines that relieve symptoms and help you rest (likely, Mercy Clinic at L&F will help)
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Avoid aspirin (especially teens and children)
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco (!!)
  • Avoid antibiotics (unless necessary for another illness)
  • If the flu is diagnosed within 48 hours of when symptoms begin, especially if you are at high risk for complications, antiviral medications may help shorten the length of symptoms by about one day.

Update May 5, 2009: Per a Sacramento County Public Health Media Release:
Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet continues to recommend:
  • Stay at home when you are sick with flu-like illness which means a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, experience achiness, a sore throat and/or cough
  • Cover your cough or sneeze by using your sleeve or a tissue
  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent spreading illness

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