Keeping tabs on the swine flu

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By Joshua Serrano / Staff Writer

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By Joshua Serrano / Staff Writer

The H1N1 Virus, also know as swine flu, is now considered widespread in California.

The World Health Organization raised the H1N1 alert level to Phase 6, its highest level, to indicate widespread community infections in at least two distinct regions.

It means that the virus spreads easily from one person to another and that a global pandemic is underway.

Locally, the outbreak of the new influenza has been moderate. Riverside County has 70 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus. An additional seven probable cases await confirmation.

County health officials have activated an operation center to coordinate information being sent to school districts and community members.

Residents are encouraged to avoid unnecessary crowding at large events until more information is available about the extent of the flu in the community.

Riverside County has issued a proclamation of local emergency to help establish eligibility for any federal and state resources that might become available.

The county’s Department of Public Health is monitoring reports of patients treated throughout the county and will track any changes in current status.

The national Center for Disease Control has advised against any non-essential travel to Mexico, where the swine flu may have originated.

Anyone returning from recent travel to Mexico should monitor their health for 10 days and seek medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms such as a fever with cough, sore throat and trouble breathing.

Despite the heightened alert levels, local health officials continue to urge residents not to panic and to take proactive measures to protect their health.

Renee Kimberling, director of health services at Riverside City College, explains the symptoms, ways to decrease the spreading of the virus, when and where students and staff can receive vaccinations and a helpful hotline.

“The first symptom that will be noticeable is going to be a fever of 100 degrees or higher,” Kimberling said. “After the fever, the next symptoms that will start to show are body aches, cold-like symptoms such as cough or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, chills, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that if you are experiencing these symptoms they may last one to three weeks.

If an individual is sick, it is recommended that they stay home seven days or until the symptoms are gone for 24 hours, whichever endures longer.

Precautionary measures can be taken to prevent the spread of the illness. Cover the  nose and mouth with a tissue whenever coughing or sneezing occurs and throw away the tissue in the trash afterwards.

Wash your hands often and avoid touching the nose, eyes and mouth.

As of now, the disease is classified as a mild virus, however, it is considered highly contagious and airborne.

The health service departments have received their seasonal vaccinations and students are recommended to attend the flu clinics that will be going on at the different RCC campuses.

Once again the shots will be available for students, employees and adult family members for $10.

RCC is also signed up as a distributor of the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. Health Services have agreed to inform students and staff when they’re able to start a program of vaccination.

For any further questions regarding advice or symptoms, students and faculty can call the flu hotline which can be reached at 951-328-3580.

Professionals can assist individuals in a variety of  ways, such as screening various symptoms, giving advice on the illness and, with permission, will inform staff members of your illness if you won’t be attending classes.

Additional information can be found online at the RCC Web site, written by the director of healthcare services, or at the Centers for Disease and Prevention Web site.


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