Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tamiflu, Relenza, and face masks demands go up plus sharing Swine Flu info on Twitter

A local pharmacist told a television news station that orders for two Swine Flu treatments have increased here in New Orleans. That's odd, considering that there have been no cases of Swine Flu reported in Louisiana yet and the two drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, require a doctor's prescription. I suspect doctors are writing prescriptions for their own families and friends or persistent or wealthy patients.

With the Swine Flu scare on full blast, it's not surprising that the New York Times reports that investors are clamoring for Tamiflu and Relenza stock, the two drugs said to be effective at treating the illness.
The W.H.O. said Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza could be effective against the disease, while the virus was resistant to an older class of drugs, which includes amantadine and rimantadine. (NYT)
Retailers are also seeing requests for face masks increase, and there's a race to develop a vaccine for the current strain that's alarmed the world. Yes, there's no vaccine for this strain of Swine Flu. Common sense prevention--mostly washing your hands with soap and hot water for at least 15 seconds, covering your mouth when you cough, avoiding crowds, and being kind enough to stay home if you feel ill--is the wise course.

I understand the concern and rush for Tamiful and Relenza, but I hope people don't panic. Mass hysteria only complicates matters.

For those of us who just want to keep our family's safe and stress levels low, knowledge makes wonderful armor. Here's New Orleans's favorite doctor, Corey Hebert, answering questions on Swine Flu, including whose at risk. In addition, my post yesterday included the CDC's list of what to do if you or your child gets ill and which symptoms indicate you or your child may require emergency treatment.

Please remember that Swine Flu and other forms of influenza are respiratory illnesses.
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. (CDC)
Diarrhea and vomiting are not the most common symptoms and may be more of an indication that you have a stomach virus than the flu. (Also, please remember that eating pork does not cause swine flu. Once the pig is dead so is the virus in it.)

In this family we'll be looking for fever and achy joints as potential symptoms because frequently we have the other common signs like stuffy head, cough, and sore throat regularly due to allergies. On a positive note, Dr. Brobson Lutz of Orleans Medical Society told WDSU this weekend that flu doesn't spread as well in warmer weather and that swine flu is "in general a weak actor." So, while it's a bad time for allergies, it's a good time to keep down the flu.

At The Examiner yesterday, I posted Books on Flu and Epidemics, Nonfiction and Fiction, a good resource for anyone interested in reading more than a web page on the topic of flu, swine, flu, and epidemics. Or maybe you'd prefer to scare yourself to death with the five fiction books I've listed below the 10 nonfiction books.

We're being flooded with scary information from news sources and sometimes friends and family. It's important to remain calm. Please get your information from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your state's health agency when you want to know what to do about a potential health crisis. Those are the sources I use for symptoms when posting on this blog.

Major network news sources such as CNN and your local news stations and newspaper websites can be trusted as well as the citizen journalists (bloggers) who research topics through reliable sources first and provide links back to those sources.

Here is CNN video on Swine Flu information sharing on Twitter and a brief discussion on the importance of raisin awareness without spreading misinformation and panic.



le0pard13 said...

VP, thank you for writing such sensible posts regarding the current Swine Flu outbreak. Many in the media, likely because it attracts viewership, are feeding the fears of people. I'm not saying that vigilance is not warranted in the current situation, but driving up over-reaction in the populace does not help matters (per your examples in LA).

Yesterday, at a news conference hear in L.A., county health professionals clearly stated that we're still at the tail end of normal flu season (and that it was not too late to get vaccinated for those strains). Some of the cases being reported to health agencies and emergency rooms pertained to that, instead of SF.

I work at medical center, and our faculty is doing like you--presenting clear statements of fact to our employees, and keeping alarm down. We need more levelheaded info like your posts on the subject. Keep it up :-).

Vérité Parlant said...

Thank you, LeO. I think we have to balance bringing awareness with common sense.

And really, if people thought about all the germs that can kill humans and probably do kill thousands each year, they'd go insane. You've just got to breathe and live life, but try not to trip over your own feet. :-)

Good to see you on Twitter. It's a good place to see what people are talking about, but be careful of Twitter addiction. LOL.