Bless you! Gesundheit! ¡Salud! However you say it, people all over the world have been wishing for quick recoveries from runny noses and coughs during the long flu season. Unlike typical flu seasons, 2009 saw an outbreak of a different strain: H1N1 (also known as swine flu). The illness, often characterized by heavy coughing and long-lasting high fevers, has affected people of all ages throughout the global community. While vaccines have been produced, not everyone is lining up for the dosage. Have you?
Flu activity is labeled on the map from "minimal" to "intense" based not on reported cases but on the number of flu related Google searches conducted in the area. Because the map doesn't report on actual cases, it's not a perfect scientific representation of worldwide flu activity, but the logic behind the project is interesting. Because Google collects and analyzes this data in real time increased search activity could be used as a signal to health officials that a flu outbreak is coming.
It's a little freaky to think about — Google will know a breakout of the flu is coming even before we know it's coming (or before doctors, for that matter), but I love the idea behind it. In fact, literally hours before I saw the site, I typed "flu symptoms" into Google. You can read more about the project's details on the FAQ page.
The benefits of exercise seem to be neverending — among other things, it helps the brain function better, reduces stress, and is important for healthy heart function. But, if you need another reason to get out there and start moving, exercise may also protect against swine flu.
I've read that exercise helps boost the body's immune system and that doing some light cardio is good during a cold, so it made sense that it could also help protect against swine flu. But given how quickly the virus has spread, coupled with a shortage of the vaccine, I think any new advice is beneficial and should be taken seriously.
While there has not been a study on the benefits of exercise in relation to swine flu specifically, there have been numerous findings that show exercise boosts the immunity system and may protect against colds and seasonal flus.
“There is evidence that moderate exercise or physical activity can be beneficial in terms of reducing the incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infections from all causes,” says Jeffrey Woods, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “And at least one report … has shown that exercise may be protective against influenza-associated [deaths] in the elderly.”
Because of these findings, some researchers feel comfortable suggesting that exercise may be a preventative measure against swine flu.
To hear why individuals who overtrain may be more prone to swine flu, read more
I don't have to read about the shortage of swine flu vaccine, I'm living it. Everywhere I go to get vaccinated it's the same — there are not enough shots to go around. Supplies are extremely limited, and a recent poll conducted by Harvard University School of Public Health says that 70 percent of adults and 66 percent of children who tried to get vaccinated couldn’t.
On Friday the National Center For Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said that the high demand is outweighing the supply, but that more doses would be available in the coming weeks. I've heard this every week and no matter where I go, I leave without getting a shot. I'm starting to get frustrated but I want to protect myself.
Have any of you had better luck than I have?
Parents have a tough enough time deciphering symptoms between the flu and a cold, and now there is the added confusion of learning the warning signs of the H1N1 virus. Present day parents have a lot to stress about, but knowing the facts puts most of us at ease. Before you fret over the next time your tot spikes a fever, check out this guide for emergency warning signs of H1N1 in children.
With the new threat of pets (potentially) being able to be infected by H1N1 — poor kitty — some people are taking serious precautions to protect an animal from potential poisons. Take this pooch in China, he's been specially fitted with a face mask. While it limits his breathing in germs, it also prevents the extra sniffs and licks so many dogs are fond of. What's your take on this tactic?
While it's uncommon for flu viruses (like the H3N8 for dogs) to jump between species, doctors at Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine performed two sets of tests to find the feline was in fact infected. According to her owners, they had been sick with flu-like symptoms before noticing the cat was ill and, until recently, there was no reason to think cats could catch the 2009 swine flu. Kitty symptoms are primarily respiratory, which includes sneezing and teary eyes, as well as any unusual food refusal.
Get the CDC's tips for interacting with all pets (and people) when you read more
- The shortage of H1N1 vaccines has many people worried, but Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking Americans to be patient. — ABC News
- The US job outlook has brightened, as the National Association for Business Economics says more companies plan on hiring in the next six months. — CNN
- Fourteen Americans were killed in two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan. — AP
- ESPN has fired baseball analyst Steve Phillips a week after details came out about his messy affair with a 22-year-old production assistant. — New York Times
- Low-budget underdog Paranormal Activity came in number one at the box office this weekend. — BuzzSugar
Parents monitor their sick child's symptoms around the clock. Every sneeze, sniffle, and spike in temperature is noted. So how does mama know if her child is suffering from a pesky cold, the seasonal flu, or the H1N1 virus? Take the quiz to test your flu and cold smarts.