The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is a hybrid for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. This applies as well for the current H1N1 influenza near-pandemic, formerly known as Swine Flu.
Already, websites and emails are sprouting extolling the virtues of products that claim to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. These fraudulent sites have escalated in intensity recently, enough for the US Food and Drug Administration FDA to issue a warning on fraudulent influenza products here.
Here’s a quick rundown on on some myths about the current H1N1 flu infection:
1. There are currently no flu vaccinations that can prevent an attack by the H1N1 virus. The current stockpile was derived from the flu epidemic a few years ago caused by the H3N1 and related viruses, so they will not be effective here.
2. The two antiviral drugs approved by the FDA for treatment and prophylaxis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir). However, health experts caution against using them routinely for several reasons: the emergence of resistant strains when used in mild flu infections, its ineffectiveness when given more than 48 hours after the onset of flu, the presence of side-effects (in particular,psychiatric disturbances, heart and lung disorders and deaths in children).
3. Should masks be used? Certainly not the ordinary ones as they do not filter small particles that carry the culprit viruses. You need to get the N95 respirators which block off 95% (hence the name) of small particles which carry the viruses. These are expensive and are for single-use only.
Said the Federal Trade Commissioner, Jon Liebowitz, “The last thing any consumer needs right now is to be conned by someone selling fraudulent flu remedies”.
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