Beware the Flu, Part Three

Flu season is in full, deadly swing in the U.S., with terrible stories popping up; like this 6-year-old child who died soon after paramedics told her parents that trouble breathing was a common symptom of the flu and to keep her hydrated. Her parents also want people to know that their daughter did not receive a flu vaccine and they are encouraging children to be vaccinated. While this year’s flu vaccine is not a perfect match, it can still reduce the severity of the symptoms.

The flu is so rampant it led to a misdiagnosis for this woman, who actually has necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating bacterial infection. The woman is expected to survive, but doctors had to remove 30% of the skin on the left side of her body.

Hospitals in California have had to set up giant medical tents intended for major disasters to handle the influx of patients.

“It’s like trying to surf a tsunami,” said Dr. Brian Johnston, an emergency medicine doctor at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights. “Maybe the wave has crested, one hopes.”

Another complication to this year’s flu is that many of the IV saline bags used to treat flu patients are made in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Hospitals have resorted to two other methods: the “IV push” in which a nurse directly injects the drugs into an IV line (time consuming), and using “an old-fashioned system known as a buretrol device”, also time consuming because many younger nurses need to be trained in this outdated method.

There are only a handful of manufacturers in the US, and one of them – Baxter International – has all of its mini-bag factories in Puerto Rico…Though the federal government has worked with Baxter to get the plants back online, and to allow it to import IV fluids from abroad, serious shortages persist.

Earlier:
Beware the Flu
Beware the Flu, Part Two

World H1N1 toll nears 10,000

Pretty impressive!  Yesterday I was feeling a little achy and so I immediately suspected I was coming down with the swine flu.  Thankfully, I believe I was mistaken, but I am sure I will have several other “swine-flu scares” before it has run its course.

People still don’t really know what’s going on with this mysterious virus.  It was reported that the principal who died in NY had underlying medical conditions.  Yet, his wife says he only suffered from gout, a disease marked by acute attacks of arthritis.

Also, people have been criticizing the WHO’s pandemic levels. Because the phases represent the extent of the spread of the virus, and not the severity, several health experts think the current pandemic levels are not very useful.

“One of the better determinants is the incubation period,” said Robert I. Fields, chair of the department of health policy and public health at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Fields said a long incubation period with mild to no symptoms would allow the virus to spread quickly and widely before people quarantine themselves. Couple a long incubation period with a particularly deadly strain, and doctors have their “worst nightmare” of a flu virus, Fields said.

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