Swine flu in Mexico. What to do if you live in the United States. (Plus: good news!)

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Remember the avian flu scare a year or two back?  A few people had caught a flu from chickens, which usually was just contagious to other birds. If it ever mutated more and spread from person to person (rather than just chicken to person), look out.  It would be a new strain—people would have no immunity—so it would it hit hard and fast: a pandemic.

Most of us thought a particular strain of avian flu was never a serious threat to humans … but that one, down the road, might be.

That event may be happening in Mexico, except pigs are the carrier, hence it’s swine flu. Humans are catching it from other humans.  We have no immunity or vaccine because it’s brand new.  It hits all ages, is particularly severe in young adults, and has crossed the border.  There have been several CDC lab-proven cases, meaning there are probably 10 times that many that were never sent to the lab.

But don’t run for the hills just yet.  Here’s the good news.

  • The antiviral drug Tamiflu, brought to you from the much-maligned pharmaceutical industry, is effective.  If you develop a fever, aches and pains, check with your doctor and begin early.
  • The CDC is developing a vaccine, but I’m not sure how long that will take.

This strain is still in the very early stages, so no one knows how virulent and widespread it will be.  The old mainstay of washing your hands frequently with soap and water is still good advice.

One odd thing.  It originated in Mexico.  Usually, new flu strains start in Asia.

Doctors and business owners: Send customized issues of James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor to your customers or patients. E-mail publisher-at-familydoctormag.com for details.

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4 Responses to “Swine flu in Mexico. What to do if you live in the United States. (Plus: good news!)”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    If I have a problem, I’m coming to see you :-)

    Thanks for the information, Dr. Hubbard!

    Dr. Js last blog post..On gum, gloss and the oversized gut

  2. jhubbard Says:

    LOL. Probably Tamiflu will do for this one.

  3. Sagan Says:

    Ever the optimist! There’s always something like this springing up…

    Sagans last blog post..Exploring Phnom Penh

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Sagan. I try.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..Inflammation and Your Heart: treatment, explanation and advice

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