Swine flu is spreading quickly around the world, hitting hardest in Mexico where over 150 people have been killed by this deadly disease. Influenza or flu has been around with us for a very long time since the Greek Empire, around 2500 years ago.
The 20th century was struck by various types of influenza.The most deadly, the Spanish flu, claimed over 50 million lives worldwide in less than a year, between 1918 and 1919. Then came the Asian flu in 1957,which took 1 million lives as well. Another less deadly flu, which was called the Hong Kong Flu, occurred during 1968. Another flu which caused concern throughout the world was the bird flu or Avian flu, which started out with animals and transmitted to humans resulting in hundreds of deaths. Now came the swine flu, whose virus – the H1N1 strain - is transmitted from pigs to humans and spreading from human to human.
The flu has caused more than 150 deaths in Mexico and sickened more than 2,000 people. Six other countries have reported swine flu outbreaks: the U.S, Canada, New Zealand, England, Israel and Spain. Here in the United States, there has been onereported death, a 23-month old baby boy who came from Mexico with his parents to visit families in Texas.
The World Health Organization yesterday raised the pandemic alert on swine influenza from a level four to five – one level below the highest, signaling that a pandemic is imminent.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called on governments worldwide to implement preventive measures in their countries. Here in the U.S., President Obama said the swine flu outbreak is a cause for deep concern, but not for panic. The President added that he is against closing the U.S. border with Mexico at this time.
Swine flu can cause fever, head and muscle pain, cough, sore throat and stomach problems. If you have any of those signs, do not go to work or school. The only place you should go is to the doctor. There are simple ways to help prevent spreading the virus. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands with soap and water completely and often. Avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.
If you think you are sick with these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Also get enough good food and rest. Your body's natural defense system needs to be at its strongest to protect you against disease.
American authorities at all levels have called on citizens to take precautions. In Rhode Island, the Laotian- American Community has issued a press release warning its members about the danger of swine flu. Thongkhoun Patthana, President of the Lao Cultural Center, told VOA that there’s a Lao representative to coordinate with the Rhode Island Department of Public Health to put out flyers, letters and emails to members of the Laotian communities throughout the region. Ms. Panida Khamsoumphou, who is not available for an interview, is operating a 12-hour shift in a 24/7 telephone hot line to help and provide assistance to the communities if needed.
Listen to our audio files for more details in Lao.