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Swine Flu Update

By Dr. Cristina Mitchell
Hillside Family and Community Medicine

wash-hands1Swine flu (H1N1) is a type of influenza virus that causes a respiratory illness that can be spread between people.  The symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, headache, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea.  Thus far, the illness has been mild in the vast majority of US cases. Currently, there are 3 suspected cases of swine flu in RI but none have been confirmed.  It is transmitted through coughs and sneezes, and other contact with infected respiratory secretions (e.g. if you touch something someone just coughed on), so it is important to take basic precautions to stay healthy.

  • frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol based gel
  • coughing into your elbow or sleeve
  • staying home (or keeping kids home) when you are sick

The CDC has not recommended avoiding air or train travel at this point. Also, swine flu is not transmitted through the consumption or pork or pork products so these are safe to eat.

There is no recommendation for widespread screening, even if you’ve been to Mexico or another area with confirmed swine flu.    If you are experiencing an influenza-like illness,  contact your doctor.  In Rhode Island, doctors offices and ERs have swineflu test kits but these will only be used if there is a high suspicion of swine flu and after a discussion with the Department of Health.    Also, antiviral medications are not being prescribed to prevent swine flu in the general population.  The CDC recommends that US travellers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.  They are not recommending that other air or train travel be avoided.

The situation with swine flu is evolving daily.  For up to the minute information, check out the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/ or the RI DOH site www.health.ri.gov.

Dr. Cristina Mitchell is a family doctor at Hillside Family and Community Medicine and contributor writer for Kidoinfo. She shares her knowledge and expertise related to health issues for kids.

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  • mayor c. sent an email encouraging us all to refrain from shaking hands–so go donald trump style, and hand one another mini bottles of purelle instead of touching.

  • This is great article! I also believe in protecting my family’s immune health by adding vitamins and supplements to their daily regimens.

    My daughters just love the Synergy PediaPower Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamins found at Vitacost.com http://www.vitacost.com). They come in cute little shapes and have a delicious berry flavor my girls actually want to take. PediaPower contains vitamins, minerals and even antioxidants (which most children’s multis don’t).

    Right now Vitacost is offering a free Healthy Living Kit with a $50 purchase. It contains a shaker cup, a pill case and a mouse pad that has a healthy eating guide imprinted right on it. Just type in Source Code WD95BG at checkout. I think the offer ends at the end of May – so hurry!

  • I find this swine flu histeria a little funny. Since birth my son has had a lot of pulmonary problems and since he’s allergic to eggs can’t get a flu shot. The fear everyone is feeling right now is what I and other mom’s have felt before this swine flu pandemic. Please get flu shots every year for the sake of those who cannot!