Academic Network
 

Posts Tagged ‘CDC’

Influenza Facts: H1N1 vs. Seasonal

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

As the Old Man Winter approaches and the air blows with a chill, summer-loving folk deny the upcoming cold season by continuing to wear sun hats and flip flops. However, with 5% to 20% of the United States population contracting the flu each year, maybe it’s time to consider tube socks instead of tube tops.

This flu season promises to be a particularly harsh one, with the entrance of a new strain of Influenza virus: the H1N1, or “swine” flu. Last week alone, CDC has tested 8,268 people positive for Influenza. All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses. Whereas the typical flu season starts in late November, making the emergence of the H1N1 virus first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease) in more than 40 years. Additionally, the flu season has started earlier than usual, with over 13,000 cases of the flu nationwide since August 30th.

The signs of the H1N1 are quite similar to the Seasonal Flu, requiring a test to differentiate between strains.

Seasonal Flu
All types of flu can cause:

o Fever
o Coughing and/or sore throat
o Runny or stuffy nose
o Headaches and/or body aches
o Chills
o Fatigue Similar to seasonal flu, but symptoms may be more severe.

H1N1 Flu
There may be additional symptoms. A significant number of H1N1 flu cases:

o Vomiting
ο Diarrhea

Source: http://flu.gov/individualfamily/about/h1n1/index.html

For both types of flu, symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Despite this new strain of flu virus, CDC’s recommendations to avoid getting sick remain the same:

ο Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
ο Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
ο Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
ο Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
ο Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®).
ο Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Additionally, CDC recommends that those at high risk for contracting either type of Influenza virus be vaccinated. Those groups include:

For seasonal flu:
People who should get the seasonal vaccine each year are:
1. Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
2. Pregnant women
3. People 50 years of age and older
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
• Health care workers
• Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
• Household contacts and caregivers of children <5 years of age with particular emphasis on vaccinating  contacts of children <6 months of age (these children are at higher risk of flu-related complications

For the H1N1 virus, prioritized groups for vaccination include:
1. People with more severe illness, such as those hospitalized with suspected or confirmed influenza
2. People with suspected or confirmed influenza who are at higher risk for complications
• Children younger than 2 years old
• Adults 65 years and older
• Pregnant women
• People with certain chronic medical or immunosuppressive conditions
3. People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

So, remember: When Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose, it’s time to bundle up, keep your hands clean, cover your coughs and get your flu vaccine.

Sources

(2009). Questions and Answers Regarding Estimating Deaths from Seasonal Influenza in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm

(30 October 2009). 2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 42 ending October 24, 2009. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

(1 October 2009) 2009-10 Influenza (Flu) Season: Questions & Answers about the 2009-2010 Flu Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/current-season.htm

(16 October 2009) http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2009-2010/weekly40.htm

(2009) H1N1 (Swine Flu). Flu.gov. Retrieved from http://flu.gov/individualfamily/about/h1n1/index.html#prevent

(16 October 2009). Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/FLU/protect/keyfacts.htm

(23 September 2009). Questions & Answers: Antiviral Drugs, 2009-2010 Flu Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/antiviral.htm

Link to the President’s Food Safety Working Group

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

A new website for The President’s Food Safety Working Group will serve as a hub for citizens and stakeholders to stay informed and provide input on national food safety.

On March 14, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Food Safety Working Group, chaired by the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

As the President said in his address, the working group “will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them.”

This site allow participants to learn about agencies playing a role in food safety, participate in the conversation (i.e. Twitter hashtag #WHsafefood), and find additional resources and activities.

Outbreak, Recall Information Seekers Drive Social Media Adoption

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Everyone is online these days, watching and discussing health-related news. Within a few days of news of the swine flu outbreak, the term “swine flu” became 10x more popular on blogs and Twitter than references to the peanut-related salmonella problems earlier this year, according to Nielsen Online, which tracks online buzz.

We tracked the peanut recall ourselves, and were amazed at the rapid spread of information and questions surrounding the recall of hundreds of products made from peanut paste.

Agencies Lead Outbreak and Recall Information Distribution

Government agencies, most notably the CDC and FDA are leading sources of health-related news and recall information. They’re taking a leadership position, especially in getting recall news out via social media means.

On Wednesday, April 29, the CDC’s emergency Twitter feed had blossomed to more than 40,000 followers (up from a few thousand during the peanut recall in February.) Today, their feed has more than 57,000 subscribers.

Who knows how many followers they’ll have as the swine flu news and information spreads?

In an interview on NPR, Andrew Wilson, heading up the Health and Human Services efforts to think about uses of technology for outreach, said, “Not only are we trying to get information out using these tools, but we’re also trying to establish relationships.”

They’ve been learning, as have we at Academic Network, that by establishing online relationships with bloggers, journalists and public health officials, agencies are able to combat misinformation and broadcast warnings extremely quickly.

Recall News and Information Resources

The FDA has a wonderful online resource for consumers – an online alert system that anyone can use to:

♦ Subscribe to recall alerts by email
♦ Report a recall
♦ See all food and pharmaceutical-related recalls

Recalls.gov is a site coordinated by “six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions” that have joined together to “create a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.” On this site, any consumer can report a defective product directly to the government, an important service.

As we support companies with products in recall situations, Academic Network and our parent company Stericycle will to continue to leverage social media to understand and help answer questions consumers are asking around recalled products, and to engage in getting the right information out about products in recall at the most critical time in the most efficient manner.