Tag Archives: Flu


According to the Centers for Disease Control, all states in the U.S. have widespread flu activity, with the exception of Tennessee and Hawaii.  Some states are seeing an increase in flu activity while others are seeing the numbers of cases going down.  The nations’ total this flu season for pediatric deaths is 29.  Although the government doesn’t keep a running tally of adult deaths from the flu, estimates are that it takes about 24,000 lives every year. 

Federal officials are taking unusual steps to make more flu medicines available and urging wider use of them as soon as symptoms appear.  One reason is that the number of older people hospitalized with the flu as risen sharply.  Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDCP, reports that this season is shaping up to be a worse-than-average season, especially for the elderly.  Two drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, can cut the severity and risk of death from the flu, but must be started within 48 hours of first symptoms to do much good. 

Some of the signs of the flu are:

  • Feeling as though you have been hit by a truck;
  • Coughing;
  • Aching;
  • Head is pounding;
  • Fever
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. 

Know that the flu is a virus, which means that antibiotics won’t cure viruses.  Usually the flu passes without complications.  However, in the case of high fever, especially in children, a doctor should be involved in their care.  High-risk groups, pregnant women, children, or the elderly may want to see their doctor, because they are at a higher risk to contact the flu.  Some antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza can be taken as early as possible to enable the illness to not be as severe.  Of course, the flu shots seem to be helping all three strains that are circulating, also helping it to be a lighter case than without the shot. 

Warning signs to get to the emergency room ASAP if these symptoms are experienced by children: 

  • Not drinking fluids
  • Extreme irritability
  • Fever with a rash
  • Having trouble breathing or breathing rapidly
  • Blue tinge to the skin
  • Child won’t wake up or interact
  • Flu symptoms have improved, but cough and fever return and worsen 

Symptoms to watch for in adults may be similar; however, they may also experience: 

  • Vomiting that is severe and persistent
  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen 

Here are ways to help prevent the spread of this “bug”: 

  1. Get the flu shot
  2. Stay home if you are sick
  3. Keep your kids home from school until they’ve gone 24 hours without fever
  4. Wash hands very often
  5. Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  6. Use a face mask to protect others when you cough or sneeze.
  7. Stay out of public places
  8. Understand that this is a serious illness that could result in complications, such as pneumonia 

The CDC states that the flu again has surpassed an “epidemic” status, based on monitoring of deaths from flu.  It happens every year, and it takes everyone’s cooperation in preventing the spread of flu by following the instructions above.  Persons will appreciate your missing church, school, or work, if you are ill.  You can always catch up on what you miss, and you’ll know you did your part in keeping others safe from flu.


One of the bad things that happens particularly in cold winter months is a visit by “Mr. Flu Bug” (influenza).  It’s been reported recently that the flu is already widespread in several states.  During 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus (2009 H1N1) spread worldwide,  causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. It is estimated that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic resulted in more than 12,000 flu-related deaths in the U.S.  In contrast to seasonal flu, nearly 90 percent of the deaths occurred among people younger than 65 years of age. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • muscle or body aches
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • headaches
  • fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. 

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. In addition,  a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose. You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time. 

Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is varies widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including: what viruses are spreading; how much flu vaccine is available; how many people receive vaccinations; how well the vaccine is matched to flu viruses causing the illness, and when the vaccine is available. 

Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other underlying health problems.  Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. 

You may choose one of two ways to protect yourself from the virus:

  • The “flu shot”–an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
  • The nasal–spray flu vaccine –a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.  The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common. It will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus). 

As all experts advise, wash your hands often, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, stay away from crowds as much as possible, and if you begin to start feeling sick, stay home.  Should you contact the flu, do not return to work or school until all symptoms are gone, and fever is absent for at least 24 hours.  Persons with the flu should avoid people that are more likely to become infected – those as described earlier, with other health problems. 

We hope this “unwelcome bug” doesn’t make a stop at your house.  If you haven’t been vaccinated, consider doing so.  There’s much more cold weather ahead of us, and this seems to be the primary time for flu, although the season runs through March.

Source: Centers for Disease Control


If you haven’t had your seasonal flu shot, it’s time!  In the latest reports from the Texas Department of Health Services, there is an increase in flu-like illnesses and lab-confirmed cases in one-half of the state’s regions.  This means that the state’s influenza activity is classified as “widespread”.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) flu activity classifications range from none to sporadic, local, regional, and widespread.

Here is information from the CDC, effective this week:

  • There are 26 states with widespread influenza activity, which is very unusual at this time.
  • Almost all of the viruses so far have been identified as H1N1.
  • Visits to physicians for flu-like illnesses have increased nationally.
  • For the past six consecutive weeks, influenza-like illnesses are higher than expected during this time of year.
  • Hospital rates for influenza illnesses in adults and children are similar to or lower than seasonal flu rates, but are higher than expected for this time of year.
  • There have been 49 pediatric deaths from H1N1 flu reported to CDC since April 2009, including three this week.

Early results from clinical trials, which began in mid-August for children’s H1N1 vaccine have been excellent, especially for the age group 10-17.  Experts feel that only one dose will be required to protect children from this virus.

Two separate vaccinations are required, one for seasonal flu and the other for H1N1.  One will not protect you from the other.  If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, please do so.  The H1N1 vaccine should be ready by early to mid-October; however, there will be special groups that will receive theirs first: children, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and those who are more susceptible to infection.  It won’t be long, though, so get the seasonal flu shot, and as soon as the new vaccine is available, get it.

In the meantime, take the precautions that healthcare professionals have been advising all along: wash your hands often, keep hand sanitizer with you for when you can’t wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and stay away from crowds if possible.  If you become ill, don’t go to work or school.  It’s going to take individual awareness to overcome these viruses that are lurking.


With all the talk about the H1N1 virus, there are some other bugs out there, and we’re not talking about big cockroaches!  These bugs can be anywhere: at your home, grocery store, the gym, and your place of work.  Because they have developed a resistance to antibiotics, more and more persons are becoming infected with various germs that the antibiotics once knocked out with ease.  Helen W. Boucher, M.D., a specialist in the division of infectious diseases at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, says “drug resistant bacteria have developed mainly because of our overuse and misuse of antibiotics, leading us to a crisis point.” She also said that they are seeing bugs today that resist all antibiotics.

Here are a few supergerms that you may not be aware of, and what to do:

  • Strains of flu: bird flu, swine flu, and seasonal flu.  Get flu vaccines when available, and practice good hygiene, especially washing your hands very often with soap and water.  Stay away from crowds when you don’t feel well.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).  There has been much more said about staph infections in the last few years.  Staph can be a deadly infection.  Athletes need to be careful not to share towels or equipment.  In a gym, don’t hesitate to wipe down equipment you plan to use with an antibacterial wipe.  Daycare centers and schools may harbor this bug, so teach kids to wash, wash their hands!  Any public place you visit, especially hospitals, we caution you to be extra vigilant about what you touch.  Most of us carry staph on our skin, without ever developing a problem.  Staph causes skin and soft-tissue abcesses.  Cover the places and seek medical attention to ensure this infection doesn’t get into your system.
  • Clostiridium difficile (C.diff.) This is one that most people don’t know anything about, unless they have worked in a hospital or had a family member that has experienced it.  C.diff. is a very aggressive killer of hospitalized patients.  Persons who have had a single dose of antibiotics for a sinus or urinary tract infection may come down with this bug, which is a toxic bacteria in the intestines.  Bleach is one of the best things to wipe surfaces in order to kill this bug.  Hospitals and nursing homes are facilities where this germ thrives.  Wash your hands often and don’t touch anything the patient has touched.

One way to help keep your body from becoming antibiotic resistant, is to not take them unless you absolutely have to.  Ask your doctor for the shortest course of antibiotics.  Be proactive: if you have to take an antibiotic, take a probiotic at the same time to build up the healthy bacteria in your body. Wash your hands the right way.  And if you or someone you know is hospitalized, don’t be shy about asking the caregiver to wash their hands, as if their hands are not clean before they put on gloves, the gloves will be contaminated, as well.

Now that we’ve warned you about some of the “little monsters” lurking out there, we hope you have a great day, and a “germ-free” one!


Note:  We originally posted this article on February 19, 2009.  Ironically, we are now in the middle of a Swine Flu virus, that has caused the World Health Organization to raise the pandemic threat level to Phase 5, the second-highest level in the worldwide warning system.

Pandemic Influenza is when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunization in the human population- a global disease outbreak, which causes serious illness and spreads person to person worldwide.  Planning for Pandemic Influenza by business and industry is essential to minimize the impact of a pandemic.  It is essential to have a contingency plan.

Employers should develop a Pandemic Preparedness Plan by:

  • Knowing Federal, State, and Local Health Department Pandemic Influenza Plans.
  • Preparing for operations with reduced workforce.
  • Ensuring their suppliers/customers that they will continue to operate.
  • Developing a company policy that does not penalize employees for being sick; thereby encouraging them to stay home when they have symptoms such as fever, runny nose, muscle aches, or upset stomach, rather than exposing other employees.
  • Understanding that their employees may need to take care of other ill family members.
  • Considering enhancement of technology and communications equipment in order to allow employees to work from home.
  • Cross-training employees in order to be prepared for absence of workers.
  • Keeping their employees informed of their preparations in case of a widespread disease, making them feel safe about their work, and able to be off if necessary due to illness.

It is also important that employers educate their employees on coughing etiquette, hygiene, and using personal protective equipment when necessary.  This could mean gloves, goggles, respirators, and other means of preventing the spread of germs.  Hand sanitizer, tissue, and soap should be provided.  Employees should be discouraged from using each others’ computers, phones, and equipment.  Washing hands often is one of the most important ways to keep down the spread of germs.

Another important measure of prevention is the flu vaccine.  Sometimes it takes a few months for the proper vaccine to be developed after there is an outbreak; however, whatever flu vaccine is available should alleviate the severity of the illness.  Note: there is no vaccine for this type of flu; scientists are working round-the-clock to prepare a vaccine to be ready for human testing.  In the United States, thousands of courses of Tamiflu and Relenza, have been sent to states reporting confirmed cases of swine flu.  The government has a stockpile of the courses ready as needed.  These two anti-viral medications are the best known to treat influenza.

H1N1 Influenza A Update – May 4, 2009

Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director of Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, today appeared on some early morning television shows and reports that he is “precautiously optimistic” about the trends of the virus that are now surfacing.  He is hopeful that this strain is not more serious, as feared, than any ordinary flu.  “We’re not out of the woods, but we aren’t seeing severe cases that we had been concerned about”, Dr. Besser commented.

The Associated Press count is 274 confirmed cases in 35 states in the U.S.  CDC count is 226 confirmed cases in 30 states.  Time lapse in state reporting to the federal agency accounts for the difference.  Totals as of today are:

  • New York – 63
  • Texas – 43
  • California – 29
  • Arizona – 18
  • South Carolina -15
  • Delaware – 10
  • Louisiana, New Jersey, and Massachusetts – 7
  • Colorado – 4
  • Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia ,Wisconsin – 3
  • Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan – 2
  • Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah – 1

As of today, May 4, the state of Texas is reporting 13 counties have confirmed cases.  Texas has 254 counties.

Cautionary measures remain the same: cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, stay out of crowds, and stay at home if you are sick.  Do not attend work or school until your symptoms are gone.  Wash your hands often with soap and water, or alcohol sanitizing gel.


As the World Health Organization has raised the Pandemic Influenza (Swine Flu) threat to Level 5, pharmacies, medical suppliers, and others who sell face masks, respirators, and hand sanitizers are seeing a skyrocketing demand for such products.  There is a shortage of masks in Mexico, so many U.S. areas with large Mexican-American or Mexican populations (parts of Texas, California and the Chicago area) are seeing sales of large quantities, which will be sent to family and friends in Mexico.  Masks that the U.S. government is sending to Mexico are for first responders only – paramedics, police, and firefighters.  Individuals must purchase theirs.

In West Houston, Spring Branch Medical Supply had a run on face masks and hand sanitizers.  According to the Houston Chronicle, one of their normally slow-selling items became their hottest-seller.  People were lined up outside the door waiting to make their purchases.  Home improvement outlets, drug stores, and medical supply stores are almost completely sold out throughout Houston.  The Ft. Worth Star Telegram reports that local pharmacies have indicated supplies of surgical masks are depleted and on back order.  Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital pharmacy director stated that they were out of masks by Tuesday; however, their supplies should be replenished in a few days.  CVS Caremark, the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, said sales of face masks rose drastically on their website.  Walgreen, the U.S.’ second-largest drug chain, also reported an increased number of sales of face masks.

Elsewhere, in New Zealand, a demand for face masks has been ignited by this international scare.  Although there have been no reported confirmed cases in England and France, manufacturers and pharmacies are reporting sharp increases in the demand for face masks.
In Paris, a chemist at Pharmacie des Halles told CNN: “if you see a masks supplier, please send him to me”.  Suppliers are struggling with the demand in order to be prepared to handle an outbreak, should one occur.  In the Singapore airport, Watsons outlet has seen their demand for face masks jump ten times the normal range.

Production of face masks and respirators has been stepped up worldwide.  Respirators shield the user from biological contaminates, and face masks are designed to help prevent the spread of contaminates from the infected person.  They also keep persons from touching their noses and mouths, spreading germs they may have come in contact with from touching contaminated surfaces.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Government are hoping to provide enough information to keep Americans prepared in case the threat of Swine Flu reaches higher proportions.  The death toll in Mexico has risen to 149 at the latest count, on Monday, April 27.  Cases in Mexico have been more severe, and affected young adults, which has not been a normal occurrence in most influenza cases.  Usually, the elderly and children are more susceptible to complications from flu.

This is not a time for panic; however, there are precautions that persons can take.  First of all, we all need to try to stay as healthy and strong as possible through proper diet and exercise.
If we can avoid crowds for a while, we need to do so.  Infected people may infect others beginning day one, before symptoms develop and up to 7 days after becoming ill.  You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Some viruses live for 2 hours or longer on surfaces: tables, doorknobs, desks, keyboards, telephones, and money.  If you don’t wash your hands thoroughly, you can pick up those germs by touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.  Face masks not only protect you from breathing particles in the air from someone who has the virus, but they also keep you from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.  Having a supply of face masks and disposable gloves at work, or at home, if you are caring for a sick person, is a good way to protect yourself.

Not just at this time, but also during seasonal outbreaks of flu or other infectious diseases: remember to:

  • Wash hands with warm soap and water
  • Keep hand sanitizer handy
  • Avoid crowds
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Teach your children to wash their hands often


SWINE FLU UPDATE – April 29, 2009

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Britain and Germany are reporting cases of Swine Flu.  Sadly, the United States reported its first death as a result of the illness, a 23-month old toddler from Mexico City.  She had traveled from Mexico to Brownsville, Texas, became ill, and died Monday night in a Houston hospital.  Doctors theorize that Mexico has had more deaths from this type of flu because it has been circulating among its citizens longer.

We must realize that deaths from influenza are not uncommon.  In the United States alone, 36,000 persons die per year from flu-related illnesses.  The concern regarding this new strain, which combines pig, bird, and human viruses is that persons may have limited immunity to it.

Medical and scientific teams are working steadfastly to develop a new vaccine, but it is going to take time to produce initial shots for human safety testing.

At this time, things are very unpredictable.  The last thing we need to do is panic.  The media constantly reports numbers of cases worldwide; however, many of those are suspected cases, and not confirmed ones.  Testing must be done at certain laboratories to actually confirm the type of flu the person has.

So, use common sense.  The advice given by professionals is to wash hands frequently; stay out of crowds as much as possible.  Cover your face when you cough or sneeze, and if you feel you are getting flu-like symptoms, see your physician.  If you become sick, stay at home.  We all must do our part to curb the threat of a potentially serious health problem.


Following two confirmed cases of Swine Flu, and a possible third case, the Texas Department of State Health Services has closed fourteen schools in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD.  The confirmed cases included students at Byron Steele High School, and were reported as mild.  Following many more reports of flu-like illnesses in the south Texas area, TDSHS will be conducting further investigations.

In Dallas, County Health Department officials are doing what they can to curb the threat of the illness affecting their city.  They have not received an advisory from the CDC, but are already taking action.  Dallas is a major hub for buses, with at least ten busing operators coming from Mexico, the country hardest hit by this influenza.  Mexican companies are sanitizing incoming buses, and questioning whether they should wear face masks, or hand them out to their passengers.  The representatives of the county health department are handing out literature to travelers, and inquiring if they are feeling ill, and if so, advising them to get treated if they are sick.  There are three suspected cases of Swine Flu in Dallas; all three are Dallas residents; however, they are not related and do not live near one another.

We are sure there will be much more news in the next few days regarding other states being affected by this threat.  Hopefully, with the information the government and media are providing, folks will know what to do to stay well, and take all precautions to avoid contacting this influenza, as they do whenever there is an outbreak of any illness.