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LONGVIEW, July 19, 2014— Public Health Emergencies may be related to outbreaks of infectious illnesses (flu or West Nile virus), food and waterborne illnesses (Salmonella or E. coli), as well as other threats to the public’s health and safety. Man-made attacks can also create public health emergencies.
A pandemic occurs when a disease spreads around the world—a global disease outbreak. While many diseases can become a pandemic, influenza (flu) is of special concern because it easily spreads and constantly mutates or changes. Because flu occurs in many animals, the chance of mutation increases, and the threat of becoming a pandemic rises as well. Unlike seasonal flu that occurs in fall and winter every year, no one knows when the next pandemic will strike, but three occurred during the last century: 1918, 1957, and 1968.
The advice from your grandmother is still the best. When sick, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and stay home to keep others from getting sick. Simple over-the-counter medicines, such as pain relievers, cough drops, etc., are usually all people need to feel better. If you have the flu and symptoms become severe such as problems breathing, extreme weakness, or a fever that lasts for more than 2-3 days, call the doctor immediately.
NOTE: Children should never be given aspirin when they have the flu since it may cause a rare but serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
While pandemic flu is of great concern, people should realize that seasonal flu is a very serious illness and is the cause of many deaths each year. Although flu shots do not cover every strain, it is still the best prevention. Remember: people rarely keep their illnesses to themselves, so as much as possible, stay away from others if you are sick or think you are coming down with something.
For more information, contact the Palestine Resource Center for Independent Living, 421 Avenue A, Palestine, Texas, 903-729-7505.
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