Ever since Monday I’ve been meaning to share some things I learned about swine flu at Rotary on Monday. Dr. Stephen L. Shelton from Palmetto Health spoke from a wealth of expertise on the H1N1 virus. (Over at the hospital they call him Boss Hog.)
Some of it was highly technical, such as the diagram of the virus that he used to explain why it’s called H1N1. I’m afraid that sort of went in one ear and out the other. Other parts were sort of obvious, such as a list of typical flu symptoms, or what to do if you get it (drink fluids, avoid contact with others, stay home for 24 hours after fever is gone).
More useful were some of the slides in his presentation, such as the one I photographed above about how to tell when your child needs to go to the emergency room rather than simply be treated at home.
Beyond that, the following points really stood out in my mind:
- You probably know the signs of flu (fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffed nose, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting), but how do you know you’ve really got it, as opposed to a cold or some such? By the rapid onset of the symptoms. If one hour you’re fine and an hour later it’s like you’ve been hit by a truck, it’s the flu.
- And if it’s the flu, and you’re getting it now, the odds are 99 to 1 that it’s swine flu, because the regular seasonal variety hasn’t arrived yet.
- Most swine flu victims are children so far — and they started getting it when school started.
- Because there is so little immunity in the population, if you are exposed to swine flu, you will almost certainly get sick. This is not true of the more common seasonal flu bugs.
- Interestingly, the one subset of the population that has some immunity to H1N1 is folks over 55. So for a change, older people are actually the lowest-priority group needing to get the swine flu shots when they arrive (and Dr. Shelton swore this was not a “death panel” plot to get rid of old folks). The highest priority? Pregnant women. Having that baby crowding the diaphragm really makes them vulnerable to a lower-lung infection.
- However, old folks should still, as usual, get the regular, garden-variety flu shot, if they haven’t already. It helps boost immunity for the other kind.
Anyway, those are the points that made an impression on me.
By the way, for a video version of Dr. Shelton’s presentation, follow this link.