FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 04, 2009
Flu jitters shut schools, spread concern and mobilize health officials
Swine flu is a global story with local impact. Find coverage of how it affects your community and state.
Reports on health, nutrition and fitness appear regularly. Look for a feature of interest (not involving flu) and see if it has useful information for you or someone you know.
Some people think media flu updates are excessive. Search for an editorial, column, letter or reader forum comment about the amount of coverage.
Coughs and sneezes are scary signs these days. We're on edge about the spread of a new virus that began in pigs and is called swine flu. The outbreaks could be more harmful than ordinary flu because we haven't yet developed natural immunity (disease resistance), so the federal government declared a health emergency and reminds us about basic precautions we should follow all the time anyway.
At least 226 U.S. cases had been reported as of last weekend, with at least one death. Federal health officials recommend that schools and child care facilities with confirmed cases close for up to 14 days. All schools were shut last week in Fort Worth, Texas, and other districts closed some buildings for sanitizing. In all, about 250,000 students nationwide had a sudden day off Friday.
In Mexico, where the outbreak began last month, more than 500 cases were reported at over 100 people have died. The government ordered a five-day partial shutdown of nonessential government offices and businesses until the middle of this week.
Symptoms: Virtually the same as from regular flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
President Obama says: "The White House has launched pages in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to support the ongoing efforts . . .to update the public as quickly and effectively." -- May 2 broadcast address
Homeland Security secretary says: "We go through flu cycles every year . . . and we do have 35,000 to 36,000 deaths in the United States [annually]." -- Janet Napolitano
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