Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Want To Know What Swine Flu Is Like? None In Alaska Yet, But Utah's Steven Robertson Believes He Had It, And It Lasted A Week

So far, we Alaskans have escaped the swine flu that's circulated throughout parts of the Lower 48. But with flights coming in to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau daily, it's only a matter of time before someone brings it here.

So what's it like? How long does it last? How sick do you get? And how will you know it is swine flu? For answers to these questions, we turn to Utah resident Steven Robertson, who believes he had it, and described his experience to KSL Channel 5 in Salt Lake City. In his case, swine flu has not been officially confirmed yet; he awaits the results of tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Robertson told KSL that this flu, while no worse than any previous bout, distinctly felt different. "It seemed different; not necessarily worse, but a lot different from any illness that I've had before," he said. It lasted a week, and the onset was fast. It started with a cough and sore throat during the day on Monday April 27th. By Monday night, the symptoms dramatically worsened. "Very bad; bad body aches and a high fever. I was sweating," Robertson said. After a visit with a doctor, the state health department determined he was one of the "probable" samples to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But by Monday May 4th, he was back to work. Watch the embedded KSL video for the full story.

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

In Utah, there is still just one confirmed case of swine flu and 17 "probable" cases. Distribution includes 10 cases in Summit County, 4 cases in Salt Lake County, 1 case in the Weber-Morgan Health District, and 2 cases in Utah County (both were out of state when they caught the virus and got sick). But as a precaution, schools were swine flu exposure is suspect are being shut down. All Park City schools are also closed until May 10th or later, and Redwood Elementary School announced Monday May 4th that it will shut down for 14 days. It appeared likely that the same precautions could have been observed in Alaska, but the state has published new guidance as of May 5th, and it appears schools wouldn't necessarily close.

For more Alaska information, visit the Pandemic Flu Alaska website. The Anchorage School District has already posted their contingency plans HERE, which include links to other official agencies tracking this outbreak. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has also posted information on their website.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is backing off a bit now, saying that even if it raises its scale from 5 to 6, signs are the swine flu would result in a mild pandemic. Cases in Mexico, where it originated, are beginning to level off, and Mexican officials have lowered their swine flu alert. The Mexican origin of this outbreak generated some nasty rhetoric about Mexico, but despite its reputation as a "failing state" because of narcoterrorism, it seems like the Mexican government reacted well to the crisis. And many health officials in the United States are now starting to relax concerns.

But our turn in Alaska is invariably coming.


  1. Hi:

    I'm an immunologist /virologist. Here is the skinny on the swine flu. This is just a scare by pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and GlaxoSmithKline Beecham to boost sales. There is no pandemic or epidemic. There are only isolated cases. This H1N1 strain of the swine flu is the same as the strain of the 1918 pandemic. However, here is the important thing to remember. In 1918, it was not the flu that caused the pandemic or even caused the deaths, but a secondary bacterial infection thru a bug called Streptococcus Pneumoniae that caused havoc after the bacteria attacked the body of a person with a weakened immune system. We've had these scare tactics for decades, like in 1976 when the swin flu vaccine actually caused 25 deaths and there were several cases of a rare disorder called Guillan Barre syndrome caused by the vaccine. My point being that the vaccine killed more people than the alleged swine flu itself. This is just a Flu and it too shall pass. First there was SARS, then the Avian Flu, now Swine flu. And the American people fall for all the propaganda perpetuated by the press, media and the pharmaceutical companies. So my advice to you and the rest of the people in the United States and in Alaska would be to remain calm and not worry about imaginary epidemics. The human immune system is very resilient and tough for a bug of this magnitude to just take over. This is just an imaginary threat perpetuated by the press as usual.

    Cheers! and good health.

    Dr. Kohn, California

  2. Dr. Kohn - thanks for your input. You are not the only one who suspects that the "threat" of this swine flu has been somewhat exaggerated. However, some over-reaction was unavoidable, and even prudent, until we knew the extent of it.

    There is no doubt that Big Pharma desires to use any opportunity to reap windfall profits. If you watch the NBC Nightly News, you know that every commercial is a sales pitch for more expensive designer medication. And to scare people into buying, they not only use hyperbolic syntax, but also will say "your risk never goes away". Big Pharma is nothing more than a high-class version of a local drug dealer.

    This trend actually began two decades ago, when a marketer made the rounds of various chiropractors and taught them how to create "lifetime patients". Part of their counsel to chiropractors was never to disclose the whole story on the patient's first visit, in order to sucker them into coming back again and again. This was written up in Consumer Reports at the time.

  3. You are going to believe someone with the last name of Kohn?
    Me thinks you are a bit shady...