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Topic: Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - Human Swine Influenza
Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (human swine influenza) is a new type of influenza virus.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal influenza and can include fever, dry cough, muscle and
joint pain, tiredness/extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, sore throat and stuffy nose. Some people have also
Most people recover within a week, although a cough and tiredness may persist. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may
cause worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Human swine influenza is thought to be spread from person to person in the same way seasonal influenza and
other similar infections spread, ie. by virus-containing droplets produced during coughing and sneezing. The
droplets can be spread up to a metre through the air and enter the body through the nose and mouth, or the
eyes. A person can also become infected if they shake hands with an infected person or touch a contaminated
surface such as a door knob or telephone, and then touch their nose or mouth.
You cannot get human swine influenza from eating properly handled and prepared pork or pork products.
People with human swine influenza should be considered contagious from one day before the onset of symptoms
and for up to 7 days following the onset of symptoms, provided fever has resolved. Children, especially younger
children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
Many people treat influenza by simply resting in bed, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter
medication that helps relieve the symptoms.
Antiviral medications can be used to treat influenza. These are prescription medicines which fight influenza by
keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. They reduce the length of time symptoms last and help people
Antiviral drugs work best if started soon after becoming sick (within 2 days of symptoms). Antibiotics may be
required for secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia.
Like seasonal flu, human swine influenza can vary in severity from mild to severe. Serious complications such as
pneumonia can occur. However, most people with human swine flu have a mild illness and make a rapid and full
People with existing health problems who develop human swine flu may be at greater risk of serious illness.
• people with chronic lung conditions • pregnant women • people who are severely overweight • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people of any age • people with other conditions predisposing them to severe influenza such as:
- heart disease (excluding simple high blood pressure)
- weakened immune system (including cancers, HIV infection, immunosuppressive drugs such as cortisone
- neurological conditions such as epilepsy or spinal cord injuries.
You should seek medical care if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, if you are concerned
about symptoms, or if symptoms worsen. For parents with a young child who is ill, seek medical care immediately
if a child has fast or strained/laboured breathing, continuing fever or convulsions (fits/seizures).
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to be vaccinated. Being vaccinated gives individual protection
against human swine flu by building immunity to the virus. It also prevents transmission of the virus in the
Protection from pandemic (H1N1) 2009 is provided by both the Panvax vaccine and the 2010 seasonal flu vaccine.
Panvax provides protection against pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza and can be given to anyone over 6 months of
age. The 2010 seasonal flu vaccine provides protection against three strains of influenza including pandemic
For both seasonal and human swine influenza, the best way to protect yourself and others is to:
wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand gel
wash your hands prior to touching your eyes, nose and mouth
when coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues which should be disposed
don't share items such as cigarettes, glasses or cups, lipstick, toys or anything which could be
maintain at least one metre distance from people who have flu-like symptoms such as coughing or
consult your doctor if you have a cough and high fever (38oC or more) and follow their instructions,
if attending a medical practice or emergency department, alert the receptionist of your symptoms so you
can be seated away from others and possibly be given a surgical mask.
For further information check the Queensland Swine Flu response website, contact your local doctor or nearest
public health unit, or ring 13HEALTH. (13 43 25 84)
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