By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kid’s Nutrition Specialist
Flu season has begun, as well as more media coverage for the swine flu. Much of what has been reported regarding swine flu can be confusing and a recent Mum Mum’s post may have unfortunately had readers confused as well. The following information is provided to help parents gain a better understanding of swine flu treatments.
Tamiflu is indeed not the immunization for the swine flu; but an antiviral that slows down the spreading of the virus within the body. However, as recently explained, Tamiflu was being used as an additional preventative measure for those who were exposed to persons with the swine flu even without the presence of flu-like symptoms. The recent study from the British Medical Journal reported that children were also being Tamiflu as a means of preventing contraction or for only mild flu-like symptoms and the study authors requested that the UK Government change their policy regarding the use of Tamiflu reserving the medication for only those with severe complications or symptoms.
The Tamiflu website does claim the medication can be used for prevention of the swine flu if one suspects possible exposure of the virus which may be misconstrued as an immunization. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define an immunization as a “shot or injection that protects a person from getting an illness by making the person ‘immune’ to it”. Tamiflu, however, does not provide immunity to the swine flu only treatment for contraction of the virus.
There is currently an H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine which inoculates the recipient with a small dose of the virus to stimulate one’s immune system to produce an antibody or memory record of the pathogen resulting in immunity. Current reports explain that the supply of the H1N1 vaccine is smaller than anticipated but the groups appointed as priority by government authorities including pregnant women, those from 6 months to 24 years of age, and adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who have chronic health problems, and healthcare workers remain the first to receive the vaccine.
About Swine Flu
Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease that causes outbreaks in pigs year round, but can spread to humans from exposure to infected pigs. Transference of the virus is similar to other cold or flu pathogens as it spreads through coughing or sneezing; and people become infected by touching something with the virus on it then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. Health officials can test for the virus by taking sample swabs from patients’ throats or noses. To reduce the risk of infection, the CDC recommends frequent hand washing, avoid touching eye and mouth, sneeze into tissues instead of hands, stay home from school or work if ill, and contact your health care provider if you have flu symptoms or have traveled to an infected area.
Please note: This information is not intended to provide medical advice nor substitute proper healthcare from your physician. It is imperative to contact your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns regarding swine flu symptoms as well as prevention and treatment.