Massachusetts Confirms First Swine Flu Cases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Patrick Administration today announced the first confirmed cases of swine influenza in Massachusetts. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the patients, two school-age residents of Middlesex County, are considered to have a mild case of the disease and are expected to make a complete recovery. Neither child attended school at any point during their illness, and their parents did not go to work during that time. Massachusetts is the sixth state to have confirmed cases of swine flu; there are now a total of 66 confirmed cases in the United States.

“Fortunately, the patients are not hospitalized and are expected to fully recover,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with our health officials and others to limit exposure.”

DPH officials continue to take steps to increase surveillance of influenza-like illness in Massachusetts, asking health care providers and hospital emergency departments to be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms — especially in people who have recently traveled to Mexico or any other area which has confirmed cases. If a provider suspects a patient may be infected with swine flu, DPH requests that they perform and submit a swab test for laboratory testing.

“We continue to work closely with partners at the local, state and federal level to monitor the spread of swine flu and act quickly to slow its spread,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “All Massachusetts residents can play an absolutely vital role in our efforts by taking simple, common-sense precautions to keep from getting and spreading the flu.”

These precautions include:

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* wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

* cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow instead of into your hands;

* if you’re sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them

At the federal level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have begun shipment of significant quantities of materials to help states including Massachusetts prepare and respond

to the spread of swine flu. These materials include antiviral medications for treatment of individuals who are sick, along with other medical equipment and supplies if needed.

Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person as well. Swine flu is not transmitted by food and you cannot get swine flu by eating pork products.

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Comments

People (including the media and public officials) are generally ignorant about infectious diseases. I've been looking for the mortality rate of this thing, and no one seems to know the answer to that. Its hard to tell whether they die from the virus or complications. Flu is airborne, and so washing your hands is not enough to protect you. Flu kills thousands, but generally the old, young, and unhealthy are at risk. Most of the people who have died from this have been healthy. Symptoms seem to be unpredictable, and range from mild to severe. It seems that the problem here is that some people are carrying it and not getting that sick, and therefore getting a chance to spread it to others. The number of Americans that have gotten it from traveling to Mexico, indicates that it is widespread in Mexico, and very contagious. Bottom line, this is more dangerous than normal flu, but certainly not ebola. If it comes to your area, I'd be very careful. Avoid movie theaters, restaurants, and places where people congregate. Antivirals seem to be effective against this thing, so if you have severe flu-like symptoms, such as coughing and fever, seek medical attention, and be careful not to cough on other people.
Although it is agreed that should your child become ill they should stay home from school, how will this effect the policy of maximum days of missed school? Is there an allowance being made due to this (and I hesitate to say this..) pandemic to err on the side of caution or will the child have to be diagnosed with the H1N1 to prevent them from having to repeat an entire year of school to do the responsible thing?
are you going to send your kid to school when they could possibly contribute to a flu pandemic because of a rule at a school? I'm sure the school will make an exception