According to an article in today’s Salt Lake Tribune, four truckloads of anti-viral medications have been delivered to a secure warehouse in Utah. The 87,000 doses delivered represent 25% of the state’s share of the Strategic National Stockpile and supplement the 55,000 the state previously had on hand. The drugs include oseltamivir and zanamivir which are more popularly known as Tamiflu and Relenza. These drugs are not vaccines, but are used to prevent the development of flu symptoms or to reduce the severity of the flu symptoms if they develop.
Local public health officials have not yet determined how the medications will be used, but the CDC recommends that those patients who have suspected or confirmed cases of swine flu be given medications as soon as symptoms are identified. Other recommended recipients include co-habitants of those with suspected or confirmed cases if they are very young, elderly, pregnant or have chronic medical conditions, people who are traveling to high risk areas if complications would result from contracting the flu, health care workers who have been exposed to those with suspected or confirmed cases, and those who have a great deal of contact with those who have suspected or confirmed cases, such as those attending or working at schools.
Outside of Utah, the world is taking swift action to curb the spread of swine flu. Specific schools and in some cases, entire school districts are being shut down around the United States. Egypt has ordered that 300,000 pigs be slaughtered. The UK is attempting to buy millions of face masks, airports in several countries are screening passengers for symptoms of the flu, and in Lebanon, kisses on the cheek are being discouraged. Many ideas, including several of those noted above as well as travel bans ordered or being considered by a number of countries, have not been shown to be effective in controlling the spread of the flu and are not recommended by the World Health Organization.
By all accounts, employing a few simple measures is the best bet for avoiding exposure or transmission to others if you are infected. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly or use alcohol based hand cleansers often. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose and when coughing, cover your mouth and nose. If a tissue is used, discard it immediately. If you suspect that you have been exposed, stay home to minimize the chance that you will spread the flu to others. More information can be found at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Utah Department of Health.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.