As concerns about the Swine Flu (novel H1N1) are continuing to grow across the country, federal and state governments are enlisting support from public schools. Most school websites in Brazoria County have information on how to avoid the spread of the flu virus and how long to stay home if you are sick.
Suspected cases of the novel H1N1 virus seem to have increased substantially in the past week, but the actual numbers have not been released. Doctors are no longer testing specifically for H1N1 but are rather using a process of elimination to determine if patients’ illnesses are likely being caused by this virus.
Symptoms include "sudden onset of fever (half having a temperature greater than 102.5oF) and cough. Most have had a sore throat.” Patients are also experiencing body aches and a headache.
Doctors at the Center for Disease Control are expecting an exponential increase in the spread of the virus in the U.S. this fall. However, availability of the vaccine is extremely limited. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, "Due to manufacturing delays, H1N1 vaccine continues to arrive in lower-than-projected quantities. In Texas, the limited supply is being sent to private and public health care providers who serve vaccine priority groups or subsets of those groups. Please note that all such providers may not have the vaccine yet. . . . Texas has been allocated about 3.3 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine by the CDC."
The CDC documentation that accompanies the vaccine states that groups receiving the vaccine first should include pregnant women, people who live and care for infants, health care professionals, anyone from the age of 6 to 24, and anyone who is in a “high risk” category, which includes people with underlying health issues that might make any illness more serious.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the difference between H1N1 and the seasonal flu is that "the seasonal flu viruses have been circulating in human populations for several seasons, allowing people to build up immunities to them. Most people do not yet have immunity to the new strain of H1N1 flu."
Doctors fully expect the flu to spread, and some fear that it could mutate into a more virulent version of its original strain. Several cases along the Texas-Mexico border recently proved resistant to anti-viral treatment, and news stories are emerging about a serious outbreak in the Ukraine. This outbreak concerns “mysterious virus” possibly related to the pneumonic plague.
Following are some websites where the public can find important up-to-date information about local and national outbreaks, how to avoid getting the virus, what symptoms to look for, and much more:
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exclusion.htm: "CDC Recommendations for the Amount of Time Persons with Influenza-Like Illness Should be Away from Others"
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/: "FluView" provides weekly updates on "Flu Activity and Surveillance."
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/default.shtm: Texas Department of State Health Services: Texas health-related news
Dial 2-1-1 for flu-related news
http://pandemicflu.gov/professional/school/: Federal government’s flu guide for “school planning”
http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=5477: Texas Education Agency’s “H1N1 Flu Information Site