OK, we all have it already

My sons’ school was closed last Friday, due to a “potential” case of swine flu in the 3rd grade (it had only been confirmed as influenza A). The school was thoroughly scrubbed, and reopened Monday, much to all parents’ relief. But I couldn’t help wondering: really? That was it?

I was at the pediatrician on Monday with Cooper, who had developed strep throat (and I called it! I was so proud of myself and my instinctive diagnostic skill). His doctor at first suggested the flu. “No coughing or sneezing,” I said. “He did have a case at his school, but it was just one.”

His doctor looked at me over her glasses, as if to say, bitch, PLEEZ. “It’s everywhere,” she whispered. “EVERYWHERE. It’s just that no one is telling you.”

Well, why not? At this point, I think the knowledge that it is everywhere, and yet the world isn’t ending, would be a calming message.

I received the email below from the pediatrician’s office this morning. In our world of parental misinformation, I find it a bracing dose of common sense, and so I am passing it on. Basically, if you live where I live, you have swine flu right now. So don’t worry.

I am writing this as an effort to keep our members well informed. All Influenza A can safely be considered Swine Flu, as the general Flu season has long since passed. So when a school says they have cases of the flu in the school, it is Swine Flu.

In fact, postive Influenza A tests are not reported or sent to the CDC and many physicans do not have the capablites to do testing. Both of these factors make for a severe under-reporting of cases. I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Flu cases in the past two weeks. I have treated about 10 to 20% of the practice for the Flu. I have had or heard of positive flu tests from most schools and play facilities in NYC. These statisitcs seem to be in line with today’s NYC statistics which point to about 7-10 % of New Yorkers (550,000 people) reporting Flu like symptoms in May.

I have reached the conclusion based on the current prevalence and the increasing rate of new cases of the Flu that avoidance of exposure is now almost impossible. This, however, does not mean that everyone will contract the Flu. The good news is that most cases have been similar to seasonal flu and Tamiflu used early (with positive tests) has appeared to be very effective.

None of the patients from the practice have fared poorly. Only 500 people have been hospitalized which is one-tenth of one percent of those who became ill. There have been 12 NYC fatalites. It is also possible that exposure to the Flu now might provide protective immunity should it return this winter in a more virulent form. My recommendations remain the same: anyone with fever, muscle aches, excessive congestion or unusual fatigue should not attend school/playgroups.