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April 29th, 2009
02:33 PM ET

How should the new flu be treated?

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.


Filed under: Global Health • H1N1 Flu

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. MARCI CARRASCO

    In regards to the 'swine flu' Isn't it a good idea if all people who deal with the public on a daily basis wear masks & some sort of protective gloves? I suggested this to the USPS, UPS & FED EX as they receive packages from all over the world & the delivery people have to speak face to face with the package recipients. If said recipient is infected & doesn't yet know it he could probably infecting the mail carrier, FED EX delivery person & UPS man.
    Is it possible that the packages or mail could be infected with a flu germ from possibly a licked stamp of an infected person?

    Remember...An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
    God Bless, Marci C.

    April 29, 2009 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Barb T

    Hello Dr. Gupta,
    Thank you for advising everyone of the recommendations of the CDC for the use of Tamiflu as a preventative. I called my pediatrician, spoke with a nurse in the office, where I expressed my concerns about my daughter coming in contact with this flu. The nurse made me think I was crazy. My daughter is a college student, and an EMT. I know the type of calls she has been required to respond, they really don't know what type of situation they are walking into.

    However, after reading your Faqs section, I understand now, since New Jersey does not have any confirmed cases, I am assuming she won't be able to receive this medicine. In the event, the 5 cases being investigated at this time are confirmed, who or where should she go to get this medicine, so it can be used as a preventative.

    Thanks,
    Barb T.

    April 29, 2009 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Niles

    It has come time to temporarily close borders to Mexico, and to quarantine any US nationals returning from Mexico - to protect those within our borders. The cost to those affected be the restriction would be far outweighed by the benefits to everyone else.

    April 29, 2009 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Melanie

    I agree 100% Niles! People still going ahead with their non-essential travel plans are either #1 selfish or #2 uneducated – or both! I don't want my family put at risk because someone doesn't take this seriously.

    April 29, 2009 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Julia Crawford

    I think the best way to stop this swine flu from spreading is to shut down all travel for about one week. No flying, trains, boats, etc. until every one has stayed home and gotten over it.
    It's just a matter of time before it spreads to every state in the U.S.
    I live in Idaho, and I have a 6 year old little boy. This stuff is really making me paranoid. There are already cases in Nevada. People just need to be cleaner, and be more aware of how germs are spread.

    April 29, 2009 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sharon Croom

    with all the people who no longer have health insurance and so will not seek medical help for this virus, How will you know how bad the situation really is?

    April 29, 2009 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Karin

    I keep hearing on the news, stay home if you feel sick. Don't let you kids go to school if they don't feel good. No one seems to address the issue that Americans only have about 10 days to 2 weeks of sick leave a year. No one has enough time off to cover illness of all the children and one self. What are we supposed to do?

    I work with kindergardeners and most of the parents send their kids to school sick after they give them Tylenol in the morning. I do understand but I also find this very frustrating since the care givers (me) are always getting sick from the children and we also only have two weeks of sick leave a year. Perhaps it's time for some changes in this country regarding the sick days we are getting?

    April 29, 2009 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lynn G.

    Thanks for all the info. I still have a few questions. We hear about all the deaths in Mexico and now, the young child from Mexico who died in Texas. No one seems to be reporting, unless I've missed it somewhere, whether deaths were directly from the flu virus itself, or if the deaths were complications of the virus – such as bacterial infections that typically manifest themselves. I feel that much of the information about cause of death has been vague and while vigilant news and instruction for prevention is important, it might be helpful to understand how this particular virus is causing death.

    Perspective on why some people, as most in the U.S., seem to recover without hospitalization might help contain some of the fear many readers are feeling.

    April 29, 2009 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Alex

    I completely agree with Niles. I simply do not understand why the US (or any other country for that matter), is still allowing travel to/from Mexico. Mexico has already been identified as the source of this outbreak, so why on Earth are we still allowing people to go there, and for people to come from there? Additionally, I 100% agree that people who have it should be quarantined. I think these measures would really make this problem go away much quicker, and not cause global harm.

    April 29, 2009 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rng

    Niles: "It has come time to temporarily close borders to Mexico, and to quarantine any US nationals returning from Mexico — to protect those within our borders. The cost to those affected be the restriction would be far outweighed by the benefits to everyone else."

    Too late – the mathematics of it just don't work out – the flu is out in the wild in the US, and will spread geometrically/exponentially. You can make yourself safe by never venturing outside your house again, but you can't really stop the spread throughout the general population without quarantining everybody.

    April 29, 2009 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jesse

    It's the flu people. If you are a healthy adult, you will feel sick for a week and then get better.We need to worry about the very young and the very old, as well as those who have weakened immune systems, but otherwise there is no need for panic. Every few years people lose their minds over nothing more than a different strain of the flu. SARS didn't end the world, neither did Bird Flu, neither will this.

    April 29, 2009 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Susan

    But this flu can be different, Jesse - the news has reported that victims of the flu who died in Mexico didn't fit the typical profile of flu victims; most were young, healthy adults. Add to that the fact that once a flu strain travels from pig to pig, then pig to human and finally human to human, it can mutate and become a flu that can't be cured with Tamiflu, and you've got a unique situation.

    No, the world won't end, the world will still be here, but history tells us that it's about time for another pandemic. The more we all take it seriously, the better chance we all have of surviving it.

    April 29, 2009 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. DL

    Many of the people killed by Swine Flu were healthy young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Get educated.

    April 29, 2009 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jamie

    The media should stop blowing this out of proportion. They are scaring way too many people about this. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    April 29, 2009 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Vic

    I don't think there is any way to know how to compare the seriousness of the current flu outbreak with the 1918-19 flu. There are so many considerations of the health care conditions and ability to cope with a strange new virus at that time with what we have now. What is happening now is certainly a huge problem, yet our knowledge and ability to cope and our to react quickly are enhanced from the endemic of 1918. We don't yet know exactly the potency of the virus as compared to that of 1918, but perhaps what we can do in a short time is better than was done in the prior emergency. Hopefully, this time we have some reason to believe that we can fare better this time than before, and not suffer a loss of a third of the world's population.

    April 29, 2009 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sue

    Shouldn't we all have a box of the N95 respirator masks in our house by now? I got a box back when SARS was a threat - never had to open it but I have it just in case. It seems like the responsible thing to do. If I feel I might be sick, I can wear a mask and lessen the chance of spreading the virus. I see on the news where masks are being handed out at colleges and airports at the government's expense and they don't come cheap.

    April 29, 2009 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Cathy

    I tried to get Tamiflu from CVS today. Out of luck. The pharmacist informed me he had 40 other requests he couldn't fill because the US government is stockpiling it .He said it was not available anywhere in the state of Florida and he no idea when it would be available. I am a flight attendant flying international flights. I understand why the high demand for Tamiflu would cause a temporary shortage but why is our government stockpiling it?

    April 29, 2009 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tracey in Las Vegas

    It's the flu over all and some basic common sense and hygiene should keep most of us perfectly safe even if we get sick. Living in Vegas with a busy airport not far away tells me that it's just a matter of time before someone gets sick in my area. So I'm picking up the normal flu supplies, 7-Up, tissues, crackers for upset stomachs, and treating it like the flu. We have a flu season every year and this is just this years version.

    April 29, 2009 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kristen J

    I guess I feel like this thing is being blown WAY out of proportion. Why is this H1N1 flu so much scarier than the common flu? Hundreds of people every year die from the common flu. Why is there not the hysteria about it?

    I think it's very sad, what is happening and what will continue to happen to the pork industry as a result of all of this. China has banned all pork product imports. I know there are other countries that have done or will do the same. The virus can't be spread through consumption of pork products.

    If people use common sense, this should be something that can be dealt with effectively. I feel like the media is scaring the crap out of people unnecessarily.

    April 29, 2009 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Barbara

    I was lucky enough to get my doctor to write prescriptions for Tamiflu for my family only to be told when I called every pharmacy around that they were out of stock. They were told by the drug companies they had no idea when new shipments would be coming in, And that they were also told it was to be only for healthcare professionls, This same thing is going on all over. None to be had,We were all told there are stockpiles. What's up?

    April 29, 2009 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Keith

    People, its not the bacteria or the virus, we come in contact with bacteria(flu, strept, etc) every single day of our lives, its the resistance of the host, and you are the host. Increase the the function and resistance of the body, and we wont have to worry...

    April 30, 2009 at 00:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dave

    The only way to stop it from spreading would be for everyone to stay in their homes for a week or two. It's not going to happen.

    It is a nasty virus, but it is the flu. Do people realize that the "common" flu kills 30M + Americans per year? Why is the regular flu not a pandemic and this one potentially is? I think this has been completely blown out of proportion by the media. If you are healthy it is not going to kill you. Anyone should go to the doctor if they are infected, just like they should if they get the "common" flu, this is particularly important for the old, the young, and anyone who has other health issues. The fact that it is out there is not a reason to stop living.

    April 30, 2009 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Doug

    The President of the U.S. is recommending closing schools with confirmed or suspected cases, but will not recommend closing the border with the country in which the disease orginated and has had over 140 deaths and counting.

    I'm not one to panic over these things, but it seems if handwashing is purdent to stop the spread, then geographical quarintine until the WHO and CDC has a better understanding is the logical step.

    However, I doubt the administration will act in the U.S. populace's best interest. They are more concerned about appearing offensive to another country on the gloabl stage.

    Sad really – Cuba and Peru have already stopped travel into and out of Mexico. Most European countries are banning flights orginating from Mexico City already and France plans on asking the EU to consider a temporary halt to all travel in and our of Mexico from western Europe.

    Yet, here in the good old (be ashamed and appologetic b/c you're an American) U.S.A., we haven't done jack squat other than tell out boarder patrol agents to "be on the lookout".... yeah and stop the illegals and the drug runners while your at it...

    Its ridiculous – the US / Mexico border should have been closed by Monday at the latest, yet our government has yet to act.

    April 30, 2009 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Teagan

    so im wondering if picking up food from fast food places(burger king,mcdonalds,ect.) can cause the "swine flu". I mean what if someone making my food is infected and breaths on my food, if i eat it would i become infected also??(i know it can be tranfered throught air)

    im sure its a big chance,but im also sure someone else is wondering it too. Im pregnant also with a toddler and i dont need one of us to get sick with this flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Luis

    Why is this any different than the flu that goes around every autumn and kills thousands?

    April 30, 2009 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. matt coley

    Why is it that no one seems to be talking about how the virus is being transmitted via currency? As long as we use physical currency, it will be almost impossible to contain viruses. Buffets are the next worse thing as kids are bound to be getting their food from the containers after wiping their mouth or nose. Sneeze guards are only effective for adults. Buffets need to be vigilent in keeping children away from the food contains.

    May 1, 2009 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Bixby

    My husband would have been one quarantined if they close the borders. He was in mexico on business. He is an American and I think closing the borders will not work anyway. Past attempts to do so to control such things has failed. History shows us that closing borders is ineffective.
    If anyone should be scared about his return it SHOULD be us as we have a daughter that was born without an immune system. (boy in bubble syndrome). She is being cared for outside of the home currently as a precaution and will take Tamiflu when she returns home.
    If there are confirmed cases within our normal travel routes, we will stay home and take her out of school until this passes.
    I DO think this is a potential for a dangerous situation but I also think as people we must do what we are responsible to do in case there is an outbreak like stay home if ill and wash our hands! (I think handwashing has gone by the wayside recently and because of my daughters illness, most of the time I'm afraid to take her into the public!)
    People should relax and was their hands, cover coughs and get on with things for now. If the strain gets more potent, then maybe change how we do things.

    May 3, 2009 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Marie Kruzel

    Why do News Media broadcast the smallest number of how much this pandemic has affected? My grandchildren were sick three weeks ago in Yuma, AZ. My daughter brought my granddaugher her two weeks ago, and I got sick. I am 50. Just because, the confirmed cases are those who run to their doctors doesn't mean that this pandemic isn't 10-100 times worse than you broadcast. Sorry...not everyone runs to their doctor everytime they have a fever, sore throat, aches and pains, etc.

    Any news article I read, that complains about people over-reacting, I will deem as stupid. So many of us, who can't afford health care, are just dealing with it.

    May 3, 2009 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Cherye Riggs

    Please suggest that US start using a gentle "BOW' like the asians instead of shaking hands until we figure out this flu thing. seems so smart to me, even if it were not flue time, i am amazed at the folks who do not wash their hands after using the restroom.

    May 3, 2009 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. MARCOS PALMA

    I just want to say thank you to Mr. Gupta for his reporting from Mexico, city it was great that you have the courage to cover the Influenza AH1N1, you were not afraid to get it, Good Job, CNN.
    Marcos Palma
    Palm Springs, CA.

    May 3, 2009 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. vani

    im flying to india in two weeks wht precautions i need to take ? is it good to take tamiflu before boarding as i have very bad immune sysytem i easily get flu so can you pls help me

    July 27, 2009 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.