April 30, 2009—With the recent cases of North American influenza, also known as swine flu, reported by the media, The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is taking steps to put the illness in perspective and asked parish nurses in its network to encourage common sense measures. UMCOR is continuing to monitor the situation and is prepared to take appropriate action should the flu reach pandemic levels.
With the Swine Flu affecting those in Mexico more than other countries, UMCOR is in conversation with the Methodist Church in Mexico about how their needs can best be met.
What is Swine Flu?
Also known as North American influenza, swine flu is a respiratory disease usually found in pigs caused by a flu virus. People do not usually get swine flu but it does happen. Swine flu is being passed from person to person just like the seasonal flu is passed by cough, sneezing, and touching something with flu virus and then touching your mouth or nose. Transmission has nothing to do with eating pork.
The symptoms of swine flu in people include fever, head and body aches, cough, sore throat, chills and vomiting and/or diarrhea. UMCOR Health consultant, Sharon Hinton suggests, "Seek medical attention if a fever is higher than 100° and one or more of the other symptoms presents itself." There are prescription medicines that can treat swine flu. These are only offered if you are diagnosed with swine flu. There is no vaccine to prevent swine flu available.
How do United Methodist Congregations Respond?
According to UMCOR Health executive, Patricia Magyar, "as with any illness, educate congregations regarding prevention including washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if ill."
Visit www.cdc.gov for handouts and updates.
Additional resources for faith based and community organizations are available online here: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/faithcomchecklist.html
Information provided from CDC website and information sent to parish nurses by Sharon Hinton, UMCOR Health consultant.