Stay alert, informed about swine flu

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

As summer’s heat beats down, we find it difficult to think of winter’s ills. But now is the time to think ahead and be prepared for flu season.

Just a few months ago, here in Pike County we watched nervously as cases of the H1N1virus, or swine flu, spread throughout our area. Parents worried about sending children to school. Adults worried about coughs and sniffles. Doctors and nurses found themselves answering more calls, conducting more tests.

Since the initial panic faded from the headlines, the issue has faded from many of our minds. Thoughts of swine flu have been replaced by thoughts of baseball and softball, headlines about health care reform and confirmation hearings, trips to the beach and summertime fun.

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But remember. The World Health Organization has declared an official pandemic. Alabama has reported more than 400 probable and/or confirmed cases, as of July 4, and there have been 211 confirmed deaths in the United States since the strain was discovered in late March and early April.

Experts are warning that as flu season arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, conditions could worsen. Vaccine for the swine flu, which is under production now, may not be ready until the end of the year. And, given the emergency conditions, it may not be readily available. That could lead to rationing or limited distribution.

While there is certainly no cause for panic or alarm, we do think it is important that readers stay informed about this pandemic and alert to the circumstances and its possible impact on our lives.