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We got lucky this time, be ready for flu pandemic
Health advice
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Have you been glued to your television to get the latest counts of swine flu? I know a few people who can give me an update released no later than two hours ago. However, I must admit that since I learned we have escaped a severe flu pandemic, I’m interested in the severity of the disease in U.S. residents but don’t need as many updates as I did in the beginning.
Outbreaks of the new H1N1 swine flu continue to spread across the United States with 896 confirmed cases in 41 states and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said we can expect more cases in more states with infections ranging from mild to severe. They also note that we could possibly have a more virulent strain of H1N1 virus in our fall-winter flu season.
Folks, you may not realize it but the potential was there for a worldwide disaster that could have caused 2 million deaths in the United States alone. In 1918, our country and others experienced a pandemic that caused 50 million deaths in the United States and this recent pandemic had all the same criteria. The H1N1 virus, like that of 1918, is a new and different virus — one that people have little or no immunity against. It may mutate and could become more virulent. We were very lucky this time, but we can’t become complacent and believe we’ll always be safe.
American health care providers are noting that swine flu is occurring more commonly in children so please reinforce hand washing both at school and at home. This could be the very thing that keeps your child and family well. The CDC has the following tips for staying healthy:
• Stay informed.
• Influenza is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing.
• Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
• Stay home if you get sick. The CDC recommends you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.
• Follow public health advice regarding school closures and avoiding crowds.
• Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
• Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Its not too early, you can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. This checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a pandemic:
• It is never too early to plan for a pandemic or natural disaster:
• Store a two-week supply of water and food.
• Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
• Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand.
• Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick.
• Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
The United States is working with companies to manufacture vaccine against the H1N1 virus. CDC has isolated the H1N1 virus and is working to make a candidate vaccine virus that can be provided to industry so that manufacturers can scale up for production of a vaccine, if necessary.
Visit for this and additional information on being prepared.

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