The latest pandemic, or a sickness that spreads through a population across large area and can even spread worldwide, is none other than swine flu, or the H1N1 virus.
Believed to have originated in Mexico, the swine flu as infected over 5,000 people and has been discovered as close to Cullowhee as Rutherford County.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 5,123 cases including five deaths have occurred in the United States as a result of the H1N1 virus. Commonly known as swine flu, H1N1 was once only found in pigs. Typically during the winter months, the swine industry is affected by the swine flu. The most common cases of swine flu in humans, until recently, was from pig to pig farmer.
There is a vaccine for pigs.
Across the world, over 9,000 people have been infected with the virus, with most cases being in Mexico and the United States. H1N1 spreads from infected person from uninfected person through cough or sneeze and few humans are immune to it.
Sarah Brown, a WCU employee, says “I’m not that worried about getting swine flu, however I am taking precautions and washing my hands more frequently.”
50% of all flu cases that have been reported recently are H1N1. The CDC is tracking the virus through seasonal surveillance systems. They have reported an increase in the number of flu cases for this time of year, whereas in North Carolina, only 12 cases have been reported thus far. Cases in surrounding states are higher. With Tennessee’s reported 82, Georgia’s reported 24, and South Carolina’s reported 36 cases, citizens should look out for symptoms such as: headaches, fever, fatigue, chills, cough, nausea and diarrhea.
The last flu scare was the avian flu in 2006.
The CDC is working to educate health officials, providers and the public on what H1N1 is and how to prevent it. Prevention includes frequent hand washing and those experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek treatment from a medical professional and limit contact with others to prevent the spread of the virus.
Treatment includes antiviral and prescription medication, which can be received from your physician. If there are any additional questions, you can contact the Center for Disease Control at 1800-CDC-INFO.