Flu may return with vengeance

Published 6:32 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Though the swine flu is no longer dominating the news like it did this spring, the virus could still be a problem this flu season, health officials say.

Angela Batchelor from Chilton Medical Center spoke Wednesday to a group of seniors about swine flu and its vaccine.

“This is definitely not a flu to play around with,” said Batchelor, a registered nurse and clinical care coordinator at CMC.

Batchelor knows what she’s talking about … and not just from her medical training. She caught a version of the swine flu, also called H1N1, earlier this year.

“Literally, my skin hurt,” Batchelor said. Having experienced it, I wouldn’t wish it on my best friend or worst enemy. It hurts.”

Prevention is key to fighting the virus, Batchelor said.

She told the crowd at Senior Connection to wash their hands frequently and go to the doctor as soon as flu-like symptoms appear.

“Be diligent … don’t be paranoid, but I want you to be smart,” Batchelor said.

Tamiflu, the drug often used to shorten how long people have the flu, must be taken with 40 hours of the symptoms appearing.

Batchelor also gave some common sense advice to help avoid the flu: cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, stay away from sick people, and stay home from work and school if you are sick.

Swine flu vaccinations should be available by late-October, but may be rationed off, Batchelor said. And they might not be given to people normally at high-risk for the general flu, like senior citiziens.

“If they don’t have enough, it might be given to young people first because that’s where the deaths are,” she said. “You’re not as at-risk (as young people). You have probably lived through one of these outbreaks before and have some immunity.”

Batchelor encourages everyone to get vaccines for both the swine flu and general flu this fall. Though different, they can be given in one injection.