Wednesday, 27 May 2009


“It is a wise man’s part, rather to avoid sickness, than to wish for medicines.” - Thomas More

As the numbers of the dreaded “Swine Flu” increase in Australia, it is perhaps appropriate to give some facts about the disease, as well as some advice. The whole world now is aware that a new influenza A (H1N1) virus of porcine origin (henceforth called “New Flu”) was first detected in April, 2009 in Mexico. The virus is infectious for humans and is spreading from person-to-person, causing a growing outbreak of illness around the world. With more than 128 suspected cases of the swine flu in Australia already (as of 27/5/09), the government has now introduced many new strict measures for travellers who are coming into the country. All flights that come in from North and South America have already been screened for several days now. The cabin crew on these planes are told to report any kind of flu like symptoms before the aircraft lands. However, these precautions have now been spread to cover all international flights.

It is thought that New Flu spreads in the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread, i.e. mainly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick. Because this is a new virus, most people will not have immunity to it, and illness may be more severe and widespread as a result. Presently, there is no vaccine to protect against New Flu. It is anticipated that there will be more cases, more hospitalisations and possibly more deaths associated with New Flu in the future.

The symptoms of New Flu in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with New Flu also have reported diarrhoea and vomiting. The high risk groups for New Flu are not known at this time but it is possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza (i.e. people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and people who are immunosuppressed, e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV.

What to do if you are sick
If you become sick, you may be ill for a week or longer. You should stay home and avoid contact with other persons, except when seeking medical care. If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a mask or cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness.

People may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to seven days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

It is expected that most people (especially those with a good constitution and otherwise well) will recover without needing medical care. However, if you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, you should be contacting your health care provider or seek medical care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed.

Antiviral prescription drugs can be given to treat those who become severely ill with influenza. There are two influenza antiviral medications that are recommended for use against New Flu: Oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®). The drugs will be given first to those people who have been hospitalised or are at high risk of complications. The drugs work best if given within 2 days of becoming ill, but may be given later if illness is severe or for those at a high risk for complications. Aspirin or aspirin-containing products should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected ill case of New Flu aged 18 years old and younger due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. For relief of fever, aches and pains, other analgesic and anti-pyretic medications are recommended, such as paracetamol (e.g. Panadol ®).

Emergency Signs
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care:
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish or gray skin colour
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

Sensible advice
• Stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Keep away from other household members as much as possible. This is to keep you from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other social distancing measures.

Natural Medicine health measures
Please visit the following websites for some advice regarding how natural medicine can help in coping with the New Flu:

Free Natural Cures site*

*Note Disclaimer from above site: The authors of this site are neither licensed physicians nor scientists. The information within this site is designed for educational purposes only. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site.

Natural Home remedies site#

#Note Disclaimer from above site: All information available here is for educational purposes only. We do not claim to cure, prevent or treat any disease. If you have, or suspect to have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Hpathy site§

§Note Disclaimer from above site: All information provided on this site, particularly any information relating to specific medical conditions, health care, preventive care, homeopathy, homeopathic medicine, and healthy lifestyles, is presented for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered complete or exhaustive and does not cover all disorders or conditions or their treatment, nor all health-related issues. The information provided on is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or health care provider, and may not necessarily take your individual health situation into account. You should not use the information on as a means of diagnosing a health problem or disease, or as a means of determining treatment. You should also not use the information on as a substitute for professional medical advice when deciding on any health-related regimen, including diet or exercise. You should always consult a your own licensed health care provider for these purposes, or for any specific, individual medical advice.

Further information (sites from which the information on this page was compiled)

Australian Government – Department of Health and Ageing site:

USA: Center for Disease Control

World Health Organisation (WHO)

1 comment: