Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Preventative measures ward off H1N1 flu

By Thea Skinner

21st Public Affairs Public Affairs

Peterson health officials are acting under a local Disease Containment Plan to prevent the possible spread of influenza A(H1N1). Since April an increasing number of cases have been reported in the U.S. and overseas.

Influenza A (H1N1) is a new strain of a flu that is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza viruses. An outbreak of the strain was first detected in Mexico in March, and is spreading through human-to-human contact.

“The number of U.S. cases are small at this time,” said Dr. Ian Wiechert, 21st Space Wing Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health flight commander.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as CDC, about 10 states have confirmed cases of the flu with cases reported nearing 100 and one death in Texas. At present, no cases are confirmed in Colorado Springs.

Although the outbreak is not an official pandemic, The World Health Organization raised the infectious disease alert to Phase five Wednesday for its ability to reach several countries. The declaration signals that the length of time to complete the logistics of planned preventative efforts is short.

Plan Addresses Outbreak

Health officials at Peterson are proactively responding to the outbreak by implementing the Disease Containment Plan.

Along with the plan, stockpiles of medication are traveling throughout the U.S. to help prevent further outbreak, said Dr. Wiechert.

The flu vaccination given in fall 2008 does not prevent Influenza A (H1N1), Dr. Peveto said.

“The 21st SW Aerospace Medicine Squadron is staying vigilant to increase our surveillance – making sure to work with CDC, the state, the county and the Air Force as part of the plan to mitigate in preventative and proactive measures,” said Dr. Ronald Peveto, 21st SW Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health officer and Security Forces Squadron chief. “One of the things we want to emphasize is for people not to panic – We continue to incorporate directives from NORTHCOM (U.S. Northern Command) in the plan.”

Actions prevent symptoms

The symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) may include fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. The effects on the body may also include diarrhea and vomiting.

Taking general cold and flu precautions prevent the spread of possible infection, and a face mask is not required. The CDC recommends cautionary actions to prevent the spread of infection such as: hand washing with soap and warm water or alternatively an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and if flu-like symptoms persist stay home from work, school and social gatherings.

“These are good suggestions on a day to day basis to use – Weather trying to prevent a common cold or Swine Flu,” said Dr. Peveto. “We are potentially at the beginning of what will evolve for several months – We may be seeing a blip that has been circulating in the world for some time.

“There are cases still being reported in Mexico. There are no suspected cases in Colorado Springs at this point,” he said.

In the U.S., an average of five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes each year, according to the CDC.

“It is too early to tell if it will evolve into pandemics as in the past or not, Dr. Wiechert said. “We will know more in the coming weeks – we need to see if it will exponentially increase or level off. Even if it does come down as the typical flu season decreases, it may go back -up.”

To obtain more information about symptoms that warrant a doctor’s visit contact the Colorado help line at 877-462-2911 or visit http://www.cdc.gov.

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