April 29th, 2009
02:33 PM ET
Here are some of your most frequently asked questions about treatment and medication for the swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that it would begin referring to the illness as the 2009 H1N1 virus.
What medicine is available if I get sick with the swine flu?
CNN: The antiviral medicines Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) have shown they can kill the new flu strain. You should take the medicine within two days of contracting the flu. The medicine is more effective when taken in the early phase of the infection.
At this time, CDC recommends the use of Tamiflu or Relenza for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses. The federal government is releasing nearly 13 million doses of antiviral medications to states to stem the spread of swine flu.
Meanwhile, national health officials said in a news conference Wednesday that efforts are under way to create a vaccine against the new strain of flu.
Should I take an anti-viral medicine now to be safe?
CNN: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking Tamiflu or Relenza as a precaution only for people living in households with someone who may be sick with swine flu. Even then, the CDC recommends these medicines for those under 5, over 65, or pregnant.
The CDC also recommends the drugs for schoolchildren with chronic medical conditions who have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed, probable or suspected swine flu case. Also, old, young, or pregnant travelers to Mexico, or those traveling to Mexico with chronic medical conditions. Health care workers, first responders, and border workers in areas with confirmed cases of swine flu should also be considered taking anti-viral medication as a precaution, the CDC says.
How would a pregnant woman be treated for the swine flu?
CNN: The CDC recommends that pregnant women who meet current case definitions for confirmed, probable or suspected swine flu infection should receive treatments that are used for people who are at higher risk of complications. Treatment guidance for clinicians treating pregnant women is on the CDC Web site.
Q: What does it mean for a global pandemic?
CNN: The worst global pandemic in modern times was the influenza pandemic of 1918 to 1919. It affected about a third of the human race, and killed at least 40 million people in less than a year, according to the Harvard Medical School. The economy went into a deep recession and the average length of life dropped for 10 years.
As of Wednesday, the WHO phase of the current pandemic alert is 4, on a scale of 1-6, which acknowledges increased risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion. Phase 6 is a global pandemic.
For more information, see our previous posts and the latest about the first confirmed swine flu death in the United States.
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