H1N1 (Swine) Flu:
by Lauren Feder, M.D.

What is the Swine Flu?
Swine flu is also known as the H1N1 influenza.  It is called the swine flu because the virus originates in pigs. Recently this has become a problem because the virus has mutated (changed) to become contagious in humans, and is spread from pigs to people (and vice versa).  Although people who eat pork are encouraged to fully cook the meat before eating, we are told by health officials that we cannot get the H1N1 flu from eating pork.  There has been concern amongst health officials because humans probably have little immunity against the swine flu virus. 

The swine flu became known to us by the spring of 2009, when cases of human infection with H1N1 flu were confirmed in Mexico and in several states in the United States, and other countries. Media reports about the swine flu, has sent people throughout the world in a pandemic state of fear.  Still many questions about the swine flu remain unanswered. At this point, we are not certain about the severity of the swine flu, how contagious it is and if we need to do anything different than the seasonal flu prevention measures to protect ourselves.

What are the symptoms of the Swine Flu?
The symptoms are similar to the standard flu bug and include body aches, fever, chills, sore throat, exhaustion, cough, diarrhea and vomiting.

Why the panic?
Fear from infectious illnesses such as the flu stems from the past especially in times when sanitation, hygiene and medical care were lacking.  In 1918-19, 500,000 Americans  and 20 million people worldwide died from a dangerous strain of the flu which became known as the plague. In 1976, following the rapid death of an army recruit, health officials disclosed to America that something called swine flu killed him and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County.  As it turned out, millions of people were vaccinated for the plague that didn’t happen.

What's the prognosis?
According to the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission.  The H1N1 flu outbreak in Mexico has resulted in 106 confirmed deaths thus far. At least 27 deaths had been reported in the U.S. at the time of this writing in the summer of 2009.   This number is vastly lower than the total deaths during the flu season (November to March) which is approximately 35,000 each year in the United States.

What will happen with the flu vaccines this year?
In addition to the standard seasonal flu vaccine offered every autumn, the CDC has announced it will offer a second flu vaccine against the swine flu. During the 1976 swine flu scare, a vaccine was quickly prepared however, hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the  vaccine.

According to Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center in her article on Gardasil and Swine Flu: Inconvenient Truths, The summer of 2009 revealed two inconvenient truths about vaccination:…the H1N1 influenza pandemic is not as serious as health officials are telling us it is... Which means that fast tracked swine flu vaccines children will get in schools this fall may end up being more risky than getting the flu (Read this article)

How is the swine flu treated?
If your symptoms are mild, most people will heal within a few days with rest and a simple diet of healthy fluids.

The standard approach includes medications for people with moderate to severe symptoms or those at higher risk for complications.  According to the CDC standard (allopathic) medications include zanamivir (Relenza) or osteltamivir (Tamiflu), which work best if given within the first few days of onset of the flu.

 The holistic approach is focused on strengthening the immune system.  Read more:
See Flu and Cold Articles