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:
- loss of appetite
- runny nose
- sore throat
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.
- DON”T PANIC!