Apr. 28, 2009 A new report from Harvard Medical School explains how and why the swine flu virus is threatening humans and describes what to do if the infection reaches your community.
The United States government declared a public health emergency as a result of an increasing number of cases of swine flu, a new type of influenza virus that contains genes from pig (swine), bird and human influenza viruses. Although the effect of the disease in the United States has been mild thus far, swine flu has killed many people in Mexico, and is spreading around the globe.
The infection is spreading in the U.S., Mexico, and other parts of the world. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have expressed concern that the illness could turn into a global pandemic. Global pandemics can cause great suffering, economic losses, and loss of life.
In response, Harvard Health Publications (HHP), a Division of Harvard Medical School, has published a Special Health Report, Swine Flu: How to understand your risk and protect your health. The report explains what the illness is, how it is diagnosed and treated, and how families and businesses can protect themselves against it—written in language that anyone can understand. The report can be purchased electronically in PDF file format, for download from the HHP Web site: http://www.health.harvard.edu/SF.
The 43-page Special Health Report answers questions such as:
- What is an influenza virus, and how does it cause infection?
- What is swine flu, and what is a pandemic?
- What are the symptoms of swine flu, and how are they different from regular flu?
- How serious and contagious could the swine flu epidemic be?
- What has happened in past pandemics of influenza?
- Is a vaccine available?
- How is swine flu treated?
- What can I do to protect myself and my family?
- What should I expect if a pandemic hits?
- How can businesses prepare for a swine flu pandemic?
Harvard Health Publications will also maintain a Flu Resource Center web page (http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu) that includes the latest information on the number of reported swine flu cases, the number of deaths, the countries where cases have been reported, travel restrictions, and other frequently changing information, as well as general influenza information.
Harvard Health Publications will also frequently update the Special Health Report itself, as major new developments occur in this dynamic new epidemic. People who purchase the Report will receive e-mails alerting them that an updated version of the report is available to them, for free, from the Harvard Health Publications Web site.
Swine Flu: How to understand your risk and protect your health is available for $18 from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Order it online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/SF.
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