Dr. Marcus Gitterle, M.D. 600 N Union Ave
After I returned from a public health meeting yesterday with community leaders and school officials in Comal County and Hays County, Heather suggested I send an update to my patients in the area, because what we are hearing privately from the CDC and Health Department is different from what you are hearing in the media. Some of you know some of this, but I will just list what facts I know.
- The virus is infectious for about 2 days prior to symptom onset
- Virus spreads more than 7 days after symptom onset (possibly as long as 9 days) (this is more unusual than ordinary flu)
- Since it is such a novel (new) virus, there is no “herd immunity,” so the “attack rate” is very high. This is the percentage of people who come down with a virus if exposed. Almost everyone who is exposed to this virus will become infected, though not all will be symptomatic. That is much higher than seasonal flu, which averages 10-15%. The “clinical attack rate” estimation from CDC and WHO 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 to those outside of the medical fields.
- 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. This has not been in the media, but a 23 month old in Houston is fighting for his life, and a pregnant woman just south of San Antonio is fighting for her life. In Mexico, these folks might have died already, but 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.
- Some of the kids with positive cases in Comal County have had more than 70 contacts before diagnosis as a minimum figure.
- There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not “possible” cases — actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each “confirmed” case right now.
- 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.
- They are advising President Obama to declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn’t, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be cancelled for 10 days minimum.
- I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection.. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk.
- Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed for law enforcement and first responders as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don’t think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.
- You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER’s south of here are becoming overwhelmed today— and I mean that — already. It is coming in waves, but the waves are getting bigger.
- It appears that this flu produces a distinctive “hoarseness” in many victims. The symptoms, in general, match other flu’s; namely, sore throat, body aches, headache, cough, and fever. What is not too common in regular flu cycles is vomiting and diarrhea which seems to be associated with this, further dehydrating victims. Some have all these symptoms, while others may have only one or two.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine — a nutritional supplement available at the health food store or Wimberley Pharmacy, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. I suggest 1200 mg, twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day in kids over 12. It would be hard to get kids under 12 to take it, but you could try opening the capsules and putting it on yogurt. For 40 pounds and up, 300-600 mg twice a day, for less than 40 pounds, half that.
- Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been vindicated as quite effective in a large clinical trial in Europe, with an H1N1 variant. You can buy this at Hill Country Natural Foods, or the Wimberley Pharmacy.
I will try to keep everyone posted if I have any new information. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid, stay informed and try to avoid infection. The fewer people infected the easier it will be for our public officials to manage it.
If any of my patients become ill, or suspect infection, call
the office, do not come without calling and DO NOT go to the ER. If one
member in a family is identified all would be given the Tamiflu or
Relenza (that is normal course of action) if there is enough
distributed to fill prescriptions. Public health stated that one family
member identified or suspected to have contracted the flu it will
require the whole family to be 倉uarantined・in their own home until
enough time has passed for the remaining household to have contracted
it or be considered infection free ( 7 to 10 days per person). As
another suggestion, if any member of the family is on routine
medication- fill those prescriptions now. Have plenty fluids, Motrin,
soups, etc available and make contingency plans in case your family is
Swine flu pandemic has begun, 1st in 41 years June 11, 2009
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