By Daniel Torres and Erene Abdelmeseeh
By Daniel Torres and Erene Abdelmeseeh
Over the past couple of weeks there have been many reports about a new flu virus surfacing in different countries around the world.
The Influenza H1N1, also known as, swine flu has been found in 41 states here in the U.S., with 106 cases occurring in California as of May 7.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as Riverside City College health officials urge people not to so much as worry about it, but educate themselves on the subject.
“The more educated you are, the better prepared you are,” said Clara Garibay, Health Services supervisor at RCC.
Influenza H1N1 is a respiratory disease normally found in pigs.
It is rare for humans to catch, but sometimes it can and does happen.
The most probable theory of Influenza H1N1 is that someone caught the illness because of direct exposure to an infected pig.
It could have been from small children being near pigs at a county fair or by a worker in the swine industry.
Influenza H1N1 cases first started in Mexico around late February.
There were several cases there until it hit the U.S. a few weeks back.
Initially, Influenza H1N1 seemed like a huge cause for concern because of how bad it was in Mexico.
Dr. Joyce Taur, a family practitioner at Kaiser Permanente Ontario, said that when the flu came to America, people were uncomfortable.
They didn’t know what kind of threat it posed to Americans.
Dr. Dennis Khalili-Borna, a family practitioner at the Kaiser Permanente in Ontario, explained the threat that many feared.
“Originally, they feared the swine flu would harm young, healthy individuals,” Khalili-Borna said. “Usually, the flu affects older people and babies. Now, we are finding that in America, Influenza H1N1 is acting like any other flu.”
What are the symptoms for an illness like this?
“The symptoms for this flu are very similar to those of the common flu, they are just intensified” said Garibay. “These include fever, sore throat, cough, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Two new symptoms that aren’t part of the common flu are confusion and dizziness.”
If someone out on street begins to cough or sneeze, officials warn to stay away but to not worry much about it.
There is a much higher chance of someone becoming ill due to the seasonal flu than Influenza H1N1.
The CDC estimated that, on average, over 30,000 people die of flu-related causes each year.
Another issue is that it has now become contagious, meaning it is transmittable from human to human.
As of May 7 there are only two confirmed cases in Riverside County.
Los Angeles County and San Diego County have been affected most in southern California.
There have been no cases of this flu at any of the three RCC campuses.
Four schools in the Inland Empire have closed down because of this flu.
Mission Bell Elementary School in Riverside is among those.
The Riverside Public Health department recommends that schools also postpone any school related events.
Sherry Stone, the Interim Emergency Preparedness coordinator for Riverside Commuminty College District, suggests that people take the same precautions that they would for any other flu.
The main precautions include frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water, always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing and coughing as to avoid exposing germs into the air, eat nutritiously to keep your immune system balanced and healthy, stay away from anyone who is ill, keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth because germs tend to spread more this way and if you feel you may be developing any flu like symptoms, stay home or go see a doctor.
Many physicians also encourage everyone to get a flu shot.
Dr. Khalil-Borna said that many people usually blow off the vaccination every year because they think it will give them the flu, which it doesn’t.
Although it did not protect against the Influenza H1N1, the flu shot has proven to be very helpful in fighting off other diseases.
RCCD Chief of Police, James Miyashiro, says he is working with RCC officials to try to get the word out about this issue, not to frighten people in any way but to teach them about this so that they are aware of what to look out for.
Miyashiro also suggests that students sign up for Alert U to become informed on certain issues regarding RCC.
Alert U, which can be found on the RCCD Web site, is a mass notification system in which people text a number using their cell phone. RCCD will then notify them in case something was to occur that would affect them.
Alert U will notify students if an emergency occurs, such as an earthquake or a fire. Students signed up for Alert U will now receive updates on Influenza H1N1. This system will also notify people for something like an accident in front of the school, letting them know to use an alternate entrance.
Over the past couple of days, state and government officials have been informing the public not to worry so much about this issue. With the proper precautions, the chances of someone becoming ill are slim. Though a vaccine is not created yet, Tamiflu is used to reduce the symptoms of Influenza H1N1 by a couple of days.
However, Tamiflu has only been proven to treat confirmed cases and will not work for prevention.
Even in instances when doctors have confirmed cases, Tamiflu may not even be used.
It has to be taken within 48 hours of symptoms and doctors don’t receive their test results until four or five days after.
The most important thing, once again, is for people to educate themselves on this matter.
The status of Influenza H1N1 is constantly being updated by the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov.h1n1flu.
To check local updates on this issue, visit the Riverside County Department of Public Health’s Web site at http://www.rivcoph.org.