Swine Flu: To panic or not -- That is the question

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Source: ScienceDaily

Thanks to the 24-hour media coverage about swine flu, we’re all aware that a potential flu pandemic could be high. But before you stock up on face masks and hand sanitizer, it’s important to put some things in perspective. William Sutker, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas says that first and foremost, we should remain calm. “As of now, there is no need for people to panic. So far, there have been very few cases reported,” says Dr. Sutker. “At this point, it is unclear if the swine flu outbreak will develop in to a full blown pandemic.”

Although there are many myths and misconceptions floating around, Dr. Sutker says the facts about swine flu are these:

Swine flu or H1N1, is a particular strain of Type A flu (Type A and Type B are the usual strains seen every year). Swine flu is typically associated with pigs and usually contracted by those who have close contact with the animals. However, this strain can be spread from person to person.

Swine flu is treatable. “Although the type of flu we saw this season was not sensitive to some of the common antivirals that were available, swine flu is,” says Dr. Sutker. He says it can be treated with Tamiflu and Relenza, available by prescription. However, Dr. Sutker adds that these medications should be used carefully as overuse could lead to drug-resistant strains of the virus.

So far, 40 people in the United States have been diagnosed with swine flu. In comparison, anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population in the United States is diagnosed with human strains of the flu every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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