Much ado about the swine flu?
H1N1 mania sweeps Bay Area, but only leaves a few affected
May 6, 2009 8:18 PM
You can't pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV, or go online without seeing something about the pandemic that's going to kill us all. But what's really the deal with Swine Flu?
The H1N1 flu, the virus' official and less pig-discriminating name, is a new strain of the influenza virus that appeared last month in the Southwest United States. It was originally dubbed Swine Flu because the laboratory tests showed that the genes of the virus were similar to those in flu that affects pigs. The virus itself is actually very different from those strains of influenza and as it turns out pigs don't even seem to be getting sick, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what makes this flu different than seasonal flu? Tests are still being done and there's a lot to learn about H1N1. At the moment, it looks like the frightening and deadly swine flu is pretty much a shiny and new normal flu.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful. Every year, more than 35,000 people die from influenza in the United States.
The CDC has issued multiple statements on how to prevent spreading and contracting the virus. The guidelines are similar to how one prevents getting any sickness. Wash your hands regularly. Wear a mask or cover your face when you cough. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.
The CDC has stated that while H1N1 is considered a pandemic, it's not something that people need to hole up in their homes and hide from. CDC Acting Director Dr. Richard Besser urges people to continue living their daily lives and not cancel travel plans or skip work - despite what Vice President Joe Biden may advise on the "Today" show.
"I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places right now," the Vice President said in response to host Matt Lauer's question about what he would advise his family to do. "It's not just going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft and when one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."
"I think flying is safe. Going on the subway is safe. People should go out and live their lives," Besser said.
As for the city itself, health officials have said they are prepared for the virus. Mayor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Francisco, but officials at the mayor's office said this was so the Bay
Area could receive government support if or when they needed it. Health alerts were issued last month to all hospitals, doctor's offices and physicians in the Bay Area so they know what to look for and how to begin treating the virus.
Officials for the San Francisco Department of Public Health said the city has become more prepared to handle events like this after the anthrax and avian flu scares of the past.
There has been multiple reported cases of H1N1 in the City and surrounding area, which has resulted in multiple schools across the Bay Area being shut down. An unidentified high school student returning from a trip to Mexico contracted the virus and has been hospitalized.
The news may worry some, but it hasn't stopped people from packing onto the BART and MUNI to get to work and school. Some of them have just decided to wear face masks while they do it.
"I'm not scared," said Alan Berry, a San Francisco resident who rides the crowded MUNI every day. "Seeing people with face masks was a little weird at first though."
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University