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Questions and Answers about Swine Flu

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Aug/10/2010

The World Health Organization acknowledged today that the swine flu pandemic is finally over. The virus has now entered the "post-pandemic" phase, meaning disease activity around the world has returned to levels usually seen for seasonal influenza.

The United States stopped classifying swine flu as a public health emergency in June, but public health officials caution people against complacency, saying that even though hospitalizations and deaths have dropped sharply, communities should still keep a watchful eye for unusual patterns of infection and virus mutations that might render existing vaccines and antiviral drugs ineffective.

It is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups, and public health officials urge high-risk groups such as pregnant women to continue seeking vaccination. Unusually, swine flu hits young adults harder than the over-65s, who are believed to have some immunity to the A(H1N1) strain.

For the latest information on public health issues affecting our state and community, visit www.sarasotahealth.org.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

  • Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the best protection we have against flu.
  • Influenza spreads mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Take these everyday actions to stay healthy:
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way.
    • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

 

If you think you may have the flu
Seek medical care.
If you are experiencing cough, fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and vomiting, please stay home. If your symptoms worsen or you have chronic medical conditions, seek early medical care. Contact your healthcare provider before going to the office or clinic so that you or your child does not needlessly expose others in the waiting room.

If you or your children experience any of these emergency warning signs, seek medical care right away.

Emergency Warning Signs
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 

Should a medical emergency arise, please go to the nearest ER or call 911. Sarasota Memorial’s two Emergency Care Centers (at our main hospital and in North Port) are open 24/7.

If you are unable to see your doctor on short notice or have an urgent health concern that doesn't quite warrant a trip to the emergency room, visit one of Sarasota Memorial’s urgent care Walk-In Medical Centers.

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