The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

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H1N1 – Swine Flu – Should we be worried?

sneeze_woman_mainLast night I received a message from someone that basically said, “The rest of the world is worried about swine flu? Where are you?”

I responded that I was worried, praying and explaining to my son why hand sanitizer should become part of his daily ritual at school when he comes in from recess and lunch.

But I hadn’t posted on it yet, because I knew so little facts. I still don’t know many facts and I don’t know what is fact and what is not. It would be my guess that our US government doesn’t want to worry us and cause us to stay home (which would impact our financial troubles even more.) Right now, the travel industry is hurting even worse because of this.

So in my opinion, yes, I am concerned. Yes, I kind of think of it as one more “check” in the long list of things that will occur before our end of times. I live in San Diego, so have every reason to be alarmed when they say it stays on items such as money up to 72 hours. And I think the White House must have gasped yesterday when the Vice President told Matt Lauer on the Today Show that his advice to his own family was to not go anywhere with crowds.

I just received the following email below however. I cannot verify it’s validity, but I believe its sincerity and worth posting for your benefit to try to stay as safe as possible.

I know what is says below can be alarming. Just remember…

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.



Friends, this is from an ER doctor in New Braunfels.
It is more comprehensive than other things I’ve seen.

Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 08:55:31 -0500
Subject: Flu Update from Dr. Gitterle

After I returned from a public health meeting yesterday with community leaders and school officials in Comal County, Heather suggested I send an update to everyone, because what we are hearing privately from the CDC and Health Department is so different from what you are hearing in the media. Some of you know some or maybe all of this, but I will just list what facts I know.

– The virus is infectious for about 2 days prior to symptom onset

– Virus sheds more than 7 days after symptom onset (possibly as long as 9 days) (this is unusual)

– Since it is such a novel (new) virus, there is no “herd immunity,” so the “attack rate” is very high. This is the percentage of people who come down with a virus if exposed. Almost everyone who is exposed to this virus will become infected, though not all will be symptomatc. That is much higher than seasonal flu, which averages 10-15%. The “clinical attack rate” may be around 40-50%. This is the number of people who show symptoms. This is a huge number. It is hard to convey the seriousness of this.

– The virulence (deadliness) of this virus is as bad here as in Mexico, and there are folks on ventilators here in the US, right now. This has not been in the media, but a 23 month old near here is fighting for his life, and a pregnant woman just south of San Antonio is fighting for her life. In Mexico, these folks might have died already, but here in the US, folks are getting Tamiflu or Relenza quickly, and we have ready access to ventilators. What this means is that within a couple of weeks, regional hospitals will likely become overwhelmed.

– Some of the kids with positive cases in Comal County had more than 70 contacts before diagnosis.

– There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not “possible” cases — actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each “confirmed” case right now.

– During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far. We are in uncharted territory.

– I expect President Obama will declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn’t, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be cancelled for 10 days.

– I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk.

– Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed, as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don’t think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.

– You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER’s south of here are becoming overwhelmed — and I mean that — already. It is coming in waves, but the waves are getting bigger.

– It appears that this flu produces a distinctive “hoarseness” in many victims. The symptoms, in general, match other flu’s; namely, sore throat, body aches, headache, cough, and fever. Some have all these symptoms, while others may have only one or two.

– N-Acetyl-Cysteine — a nutritional supplement available at the health food store or Wimberley Pharmacy, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. I suggest 1200mg, twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day in kids over 12. It would be hard to get kids under 12 to take it, but you could try opening the capsules and putting it on yogurt. For 40 pounds and up, 300-600 mg twice a day, for less than 40 pounds, half that.

– Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been vindicated as quite effective in a large clinical trial in Europe, with an H1N1 variant. You can buy this at Hill Country Natural Foods, or the Wimberley Pharmacy.

I will try to keep everyone posted if I have any new information. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid just avoid infection. The fewer people infected the easier it will be for our public officials to manage it.



This just emailed me to me too:

Swine Flu: Stay Tuned for the Latest Information

Mark Jerome Walters, D.V.M.

Waiting in the Shadows?

In truth, experts have been warning of a worldwide outbreak of a horrific influenza ever since 1997, when the first human cases of so-called H5N1 avian influenza were reported in Hong Kong.

Two years ago the news was filled with a similar threat – bird flu. We got lucky.  The threat didn’t ripen into a pandemic.

Now we are watching and waiting to see what happens with another type of influenza – swine flu.

A spate of ominous mounting human cases has suddenly cast the threat of a pandemic into the headlines once again:

The alarming trends have led many public health experts to shed their normally cautious language when talking about the flu. The World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva, Switzerland, recently raised the pandemic alert level to 4–just one step away from the likely beginnings of a pandemic.

If a severe pandemic does occur, nobody knows how many people will get sick or how many will die. The death toll could be in the millions.

The Three Most Important Websites

Confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S. can be tracked on CDC’s website at and recent swine flu news from the World Health Organization is posted at the follow site:  If you are contemplating travel you can get the most recent traveler’s health information at

Preparations To Take & Precautions to Implement

People can take basic steps to prepare themselves and their families for the worst.  While these two simple actions may seem like a pittance in the face of a swine flu pandemic, they could help to decrease your chances of infection.

1.  Take the time now to learn about swine flu. This will help you begin preparing emotionally for an event that may now be hard to comprehend.  Those who have prepared themselves emotionally and intellectually will be able to act quickly and wisely while the unprepared are still struggling with denial and inaction.

2.  Get in a habit of practicing the basic CDC-recommended hygiene techniques that you should have been practicing all along (but probably haven’t):

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away after you use it.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth since germs can spread this way.  Your children will learn this quickly if you teach them.
  • Get in the habit of washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.  Although influenza spreads by respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, it can be carried on other surfaces.

3. Buy some face masks now. I have taken the modest step of buying (for a few  dollars each) some face masks to have on hand in case the pandemic begins, although their effectiveness is limited in blocking transmission of the tiny influenza virus. (Masks with a rating of N95 or higher are apt to be more protective.) Such masks may be in short supply when the pandemic begins.

4. Plan ways to minimize your contact with others as you conduct essential business. To be sure, if a swine flu pandemic arrives, it will not be up to parents to send their children to school or not.  Schools will be shut down. Large public gatherings, such as sporting events, will be prohibited.  However, the small decisions you make every day will help to determine how many potentially infected people you come into contact with.


The recent trend of events suggests that time and luck may be running out.  It would be prudent, then, to assume that a pandemic is on its way.  If it doesn’t materialize over the next few weeks, we will be better educated and prepared when the next one does.

Our country has proven capable of preparing for the unthinkable.  Nothing has been spared in the fight against terrorism.  And while the pandemic will not be intentional, no one could imagine a worse form of biological terror.

* Mark Jerome Walters is a veterinarian and the author of Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them (Island Press, 2004).  A Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Medical School from 2001-2003, he is currently a professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.