Five ways to protect yourself from swine flu

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Since we are headquartered in San Antonio, is located relatively close to ground zero in the current swine flu outbreak. The first H1N1 death in the United States was here in Texas, and today, Dr. Marcus Gitterle, a New Braunfels emergency medicine physician, is attracting significant attention after sending out a frightening internal e-mail that has spread across the Web like wildfire.

Based on privately communicated information from the Centers for Disease Control and other sources, Dr. Gitterle said that the virus is far worse than the media is telling the public.

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Gitterle’s e-mail:

Since it is such a novel (new) virus, there is no “herd immunity,” so the “attack rate” is very high … Almost everyone who is exposed to this virus will become infected … The “clinical attack rate” may be around 40-50%. This is the number of people who show symptoms. This is a huge number. It is hard to convey the seriousness of this.

The virulence (deadliness) of this virus is as bad here as in Mexico, and there are folks on ventilators here in the US, right now … Here in the US, folks are getting Tamiflu or Relenza quickly, and we have ready access to ventilators. What this means is that within a couple of weeks, regional hospitals will likely become overwhelmed.

There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not “possible” cases — actual), than what is being reported in the media.

During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far. We are in uncharted territory…

Dr. Gitterle subsequently has pointed out that, even if the swine flu does not prove more severe than the typical flu, the fact that the “attack rate” is three times higher could mean more than 100,000 people in the United States could die before the outbreak has ended.

Whether or not things are as serious as Dr. Gitterle suggests, this is clearly a situation where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here are five things you should do to protect yourself and your family from the H1N1 virus:

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1. Avoid indoor gatherings, or entering any enclosed space with someone who has signs of a respiratory illness. Try to stay at least six feet from anyone with a cough, sneeze, runny nose, or other symptoms; the droplets can travel further than you might think.

2. Avoid handshakes and wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands prevents the transfer of virus particles from the hands to the eyes, nose and mouth. If you do shake hands, use a hand sanitizer immediately afterward.

3. Don’t rely on masks. Snug-fitting medical masks, such as surgical or dental masks, might be better than nothing — but not much better. Too often, they simply give us a false sense of security about being in group settings. The better course is simply to avoid groups whenever possible.

4. Treat swine flu with Tamiflu or Relenza. Doctors says this swine flu strain is treatable with two antiviral drugs: Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Relenza, have already begun increasing production.

U.S. government officials say they have stockpiled enough of these medications to treat up to 50 million people. If the virus spreads widely enough to exhaust this stockpile, Roche says it has an annual production capacity of 400 million treatment courses.

Is one of these two medications better than the other? According to Dr. Gitterle: “If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.”

5. Consider alternative remedies and immunity boosters. N-Acetyl-Cysteine, a nutritional supplement, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. Dr. Gitterle recommends 1200mg twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day for children over 12. Additionally, Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been shown to be effective in a clinical trial with an H1N1 variant. Taking vitamins C and D is also a good idea.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs. - Search. Compare. Save.

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