A new White House report issued this week offered some frightening scenarios about the potential effects of swine flu.
- Between 60 and 120 million Americans could become infected with swine flu this fall.
- 30 million Americans could become infected but not show any symptoms.
- Up to 1.8 million people may need to be hospitalized due to swine flu.
- 90,000 Americans could die from swine flu this fall, mostly children and young people.
After the report was released to the pressed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a follow-up press release that urged caution regarding the reports estimates. In other words, “As more data has come out of the Southern Hemisphere, where it seems to be fading, it looks as if it’s going to be somewhat milder,” said Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, “If we were betting on the most likely number, I’d say it’s not 90,000 deaths; it’s lower.”
According to the CDC, the best way to avoid infection is to get the not-yet-available swine flu vaccine. They also stress that all members of the family should wash hands frequently, using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antibacterial soaps are no better than ordinary soaps, since swine flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria. Teach children to use tissues (or their elbow) to cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. And if kids show signs of the flu (fever, coughing, sore throat, aches) keep them home for seven days or at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.