Most people living today were not around when the Swine Flu made its first deadly appearance in April 1918 and reappeared in the fall killing over 50 million people. It was the H1N1 virus that was responsible for the worst single source of casualties in US history according to Tommy Thompson former US Secretary of Health & Human Services. The flu season of 1918 killed more Americans than all modern wars we’ve been in combined.
Hospitals around the country have been monitoring cases since last April and have seen the same pattern developing that occurred in 1918. The World Health Organization declared this a pandemic during the winter flu season in the southern hemisphere while the rest of us in the northern parts of the globe have not been left alone. Local stories of healthy adults getting sick and dying from the H1N1 virus have alarmed many.
Doctors have been troubled by reports from Australia, deep in their flu season that at least 20 percent of ICU beds are being taken by H1N1 patients. In Sacramento a similar surge would prompt some hospitals to delay elective procedures and have to shift more stable patients out of intensive care to make way for flu victims. According to Dr. Christian Sandrock, an infectious disease specialist with the UC Davis Medical Center said, “it is moderately likely that UC Davis could fill up with intensive care flu patients so when an outlying hospital wants to transfer a patient we won’t have the room.”
Those being asked to care for the highly infectious patients have concerns as well. In a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, reporter Anna Tong reported on the concern area nurses have of a reported shortage of protective masks or respirators at the hospitals that will care for the flu patients. She states that according to the federal CDC half the health care workers infected with the H1N1 virus were exposed at work. In Sacramento one nurse has already died from the H1N1 virus.
According to Tongs article nurses say their concern is not limited to their own ranks. “This is about patient and healthcare worker protection,” said Karen Brown, an adult intensive care unit nurse at UC Davis Medical Center. Masks or respirators have been proven to be an effective protection against the spread of the airborne virus by those trying to avoid getting it and preventing those that have it from spreading every time they cough, sneeze or even breathe.
VantageRx, a Rocklin based company specializes in the distribution of medications and some specialty supplies says they have an answer to the shortage. According to Richard Orchard the companies President, “we have exclusive rights to one of only two FDA approved respirator masks available.” According to Orchard most dust mask or even surgical masks that the general public can get do not stop the tiny virus or airborne particles we expel when we cough or breathe. Masks have to pass several rigid tests to be FDA approved on is a fit test, there can’t be any openings around the mask on your face otherwise anything can get in or out.
VantageRx through its representatives have been working since late this spring to get the word out through their doctor offices they service and by producing an online video explaining the truth about the flu and how their supply of respirator masks should be part of the protective package people in public places should use. “Everyone is listing the usual have hand sanitizer available, get a flu shot, take Tamiflu, or some of the natural herbal formula’s that seem to work effectively too, but little is being said about the public wearing protective masks.”
According to Orchard one of the main problems with the general purpose N95 respirator mask that health care workers are asked to wear is that they are only rated for 2 hours and should be discarded according to FDA guidelines. To solve that problem Orchard has struck a deal with a manufacturer of an anti-viral mask that is effective for 24 hours use. “This mask is made of seven layers using nanotechnology to create a bidirectional mask that neutralizes a virus or bacteria. The standard N95 respirator used by nurses is only 3 layers and has no true anti-viral neutralizing capabilities,” said Orchard.
“We just encourage people to go to our web site, www.truthaboutflu.com and get the facts about the real dangers we all face with this specific flu. If they decide a respirator is a smart thing to get they can be ordered off the web site, but we encourage people to contact their primary care physician and get them through their office,” Orchard said. The company has a reduced price to people who order with a discount code they can obtain from their doctor.