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Knox County Deals with H1N1 Flu Virus
Even though it’s called “swine flu,” you can’t get it from eating cooked pork or being around pigs. Those are just a few of the many misconceptions about the H1N1 flu virus.
The wording makes it tough, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says that most people with 2009 H1N1 have had mild symptoms and have not needed medical care. The same is true of those who have experienced the seasonal flu.
“The H1N1 concern is very real, but health care providers and patients should not overreact,” said Dr. David Fleming, chair of internal medicine at the University of Missouri and member of Health Literacy Missouri. “The vast majority of those infected will recover with no lasting effects. What makes the H1N1 season different is that younger patients are at greater risk than patients older than 65.”
As of October 17, the CDC reported that flu activity was widespread in 46 states, including Missouri. There have been more than 17,000 cases of H1N1 confirmed nationwide. Influenza-like illnesses are much higher than usual for this time of year and higher than what is seen during the peak of many flu seasons. Worldwide more than 400,000 people have been diagnosed with the 2009 H1N1 virus. Of those, 5,000 have died.
The symptoms for H1N1 flu are similar to that of other flu types: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, fatigue and vomiting. One major difference between H1N1 and the regular seasonal flu, however, is who it affects. H1N1 tends to affect children and young adults under 24 years of age. In Knox County, 23 percent of the population under 18, according to 2008 census data.
The CDC has created a new flu vaccine for H1N1. More than 11 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped nationwide. Missouri will receive 175,000 of those. It involves one shot for those over 10 years of age and two shots for those younger than 10. There is also a nasal mist form of the vaccine. The CDC says it’s important to remember to get vaccinated for both types of flu this fall: H1N1 and the seasonal flu. Getting only the seasonal flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting H1N1. The U.S. federal government has ordered 250 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.
In the meantime, you can help stop the spread of H1N1 flu. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services makes several recommendations:
• Wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands. Use the crook of your elbow instead.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The virus can remain on objects such as doorknobs after an infected person touches it. Others can become infected by touching the doorknob, then rubbing their eyes.
• Stay home if you’re sick, especially if you have a fever.
Missouri residents can call this 24-hour, free phone number, 1-877-FLU-4141 (1-877-358-4141), for information about the H1N1 flu, from symptoms and basic medical advice to the availability of the new H1N1 vaccine.
For more information, visit www.flu.gov where you can learn more about H1N1 as well as the seasonal flu or contact the Knox County Health Department.