Should ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia Patients Worry About Swine Flu?


As I sit here trying to recover from strep throat, I wonder if  CFS, Fibromyalgia and other immune-compromised patients should be taking extra precautions to avoid swine flu.  Chronic illness patients tend to get sick easier than healthy individuals and many of us feel that we are destined to get every illness that comes along because we can’t fight the viruses and bacteria off.  Swine flu, or swine influenza, is a respiratory illness in pigs caused by type A influenza virus.  In pigs, swine flu causes high rates of illness among pigs but low death rates.   

When I was watching the news tonight and found out that the swine flu had reached dangerous new levels, I immediately felt a twinge of panic because of how easily and often I get sick.  A possible pandemic is not something an underfunctioning immune system wants to deal with.  Rationally, I know that getting all worked up and getting excited isn’t going to help anything and the stress can only further deteriorate my health. 

At the time I am writing this, the number of reported cases of swine flu in the U.S. (no fatalities) is 48 in New York, California, Ohio, Kansas and Texas.  In Mexico, there have been a total of 2,000 believed to be infected with 149 deaths.   Worldwide there have been a total of 73 reported cases.  According to the World Health Organization:

WHO advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders. It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.

There is also no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products. Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.


According to the CDC, the symptoms of swine flu in humans is similar to those of the regular flu. These symptoms include:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • coughing
  • loss of appetite
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

Person-to-person transmission of swine flu is spread the same as the flu – through sneezing, coughing, or touching something that an infected person has touched then touching their mouth or nose. 

Swine flu is diagnosed with a respiratory specimen that needs to be taken within the first four or five days of the illness.  There are four medications used to treat swine flu:  amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir.  The CDC says that the most recent outbreaks of swine flu have been resistant to amantadine and rimantadine.

While it’s not good for us to panic, I think that we should definitely be proactive and take preventive measures, especially if you have a chronic illness like ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia.  What can we do to help prevent swine flu?  The CDC recommends we:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

CFS & FM patients should do all of the above and:

  • Make sure you are getting enough rest so that you can build up your body in case it needs to fight off swine flu.
  • Take antioxidants.  You can get antioxidants from certain foods and in supplements.  Right now pomegranate juice is the latest and greatest that people are drinking to get the antioxidant benefits. 
  • Eat the daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Also make sure you are avoiding sugar and other unhealthy foods that can run your body down.
  • If you are able to do some light exercising, do so in moderation to help build up your body.
  • Take immune support supplements.  Pro Health sells a good immune supplement called Transfer Factor Essentials
  • Take your vitamins!
  • Try to get enough sleep.  Take sleep medication if necessary.
  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!  Make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer wipes or other disinfectants as often as needed.  If you work with the public, touch money, etc., you will need to have these on hand daily.
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  1. Great post. But I think it’s equally important to keep this in perspective. A Twitter friend shared this URL with me yesterday: (If you don’t want to follow through, it’s just “NO” in big red letters, with some very compelling stats comparing swine flu with other causes of death/illness, such as the regular flu, car accidents, heart disease, etc.)

    Regardless, it’s a good idea to practice good “disease-avoidance hygiene” even if it’s not something to worry about.

    • Hi Sherrie, Thanks for the link. I will check out this site. It’s probably a good idea to not get overly excited but I think it’s never too early or too preventive to take measures, especially those of us susceptible to getting everything that comes along illness wise. Take care!

  2. I find it to be a joke when they state swine flu is just like common flu so people with me/cfs don’t need to worry.

    I have had flu with my me/cfs and um its nothing like what a normal person experiences it is at least 5 times worse and takes months to recover so I find this insulting to my intelligence people who have not experienced me/cfs live state it’s like nothing.

    Any illness to a me/cfs sufferer is serious we are already fighting a battle.

    What is with the poor advise about medicine also a lot of me/cfs sufferers have bad reactions to medicine and are clearly stated to stay away from normal flu jabs but no swine flu nothing everything is fine.

    I think again this shows that we are not taken very serious.

  3. I have fibro. I am scared about the swine flu. I have never in my life been very healthy. My mom says I was that way since I was born I was always tired and caught every virus and was a VERY SICK CHILD. I am careful not to expose myself to germs but o my gosh I have to shop, get gas for my car etc. I love my kids and dont want to die from this flu. If I get it what are my chances? Lori

  4. I’m probably about to sound like I wear tinfoil hats and check myself for implants, but at the risk of sounding nuts, here are my thoughts:

    This virus hits kids, hits them hard. Not elders; not middle aged people with chronic conditions; not nursing homes. Kids. Why?

    And there is no way this vaccine is naturally occurring. Even CDC has said it’s manmade – someone evil created a manmade mix of the 1918 flu that killed half a million people worldwide, the 1968 swine flu where the vaccine killed people as much as the flu, and a modified version of the bird flu, according to things I read when it first showed up – things I haven’t been able to find on the medical and news sites where I first found them.

    I used to work with inpatient research protocols. IMO, based on that knowledge, this vaccine isn’t tested well. Plus, had conspiracy theorists not come up with accusations about the vaccine, had people not raised Cain about the original plan to give the vaccine to a bunch of little kids with no clinical trials at all (plans were to start the program by vaccinating about 10,000 little kids in Oklahoma; there was a news clip on YouTube that exposed this plan), I truly do not believe that there would’ve been the clinical trials that finally did occur.

    So, being suspicious by nature, I find myself asking: What is in this vaccine, besides supposedly something to cause immunity to H1N1, that the government wants put into our population – particularly the kids? The conspiracy theorists claim it’s something to cause infertility to stop worldwide overpopulation & global warming. Was the germ manufactured to cause a panic that would welcome an untested vaccine that has some as yet unknown effect?

    We can’t even sue the vaccine makers if we get sick. They have immunity from lawsuits; instead, the government set up a vaccine fund to help people who have bad reactions. Sorry, that’s suspicious, especially since much needed medical tort reform isn’t occuring. In other words, you can sue the sox off the drug makers & healthcare facilities & doctors – for anything except problems with the H1N1 flu vaccine.

    Are they right? I have to admit that after years of debunking conspiracy theories, I’m starting to wonder if this one has merit.

    I’m starting to wonder something else: We used to have people die from terrible diseases because we could not stop them. Sometimes, they didn’t die right away – they did, however, have serious health problems that shortened their lives, which were often quite miserable from the sequelae of the illness. Vaccines that stop the illness are wonderful.

    But now, we have more chronic illnesses than ever before, starting with Boomers, who were pretty much on the forefront of most vaccines developed, starting with polio, except smallpox and maybe the DTP vaccine. In our lifetimes, we’ve developed so many new vaccines – and worried parents are noticing many more problems which they believe are related to all the vaccines.

    While I’m not sure that’s true of all vaccines, we’re sure dumping a lot of stuff into kids at increasingly younger ages. I think it’s overwhelming young immune systems to the point where they attack the person along with the diseases. I can’t figure out why they can’t back off a bit and stretch the vaccines out; maybe that’d help a bit. But instead of trying something like that, making things more logical, IMO we give them autoimmune diseases then complain about the cost of their care. And if the conspiracy theorists are right, we manufacture a flu that targets kids, and put a vaccine in them to keep them from reproducing – or at least decrease their chances.

    Like I said, it’s nuts. But it’s something I’m wondering about.

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