Marines

Lejeune prepares to fight "swine flu"

27 Oct 2009 | Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

As the “swine flu” spreads across the nation, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune prepares to take care of its service members and their families.

Camp Lejeune will soon be receiving the H1N1 flu vaccine for Department of Defense personnel and their beneficiaries.

The exact arrival date has yet to be determined, but health personnel with the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune have been in contact with the State of North Carolina and the Defense Supply Center out of Philadelphia, and are currently awaiting receipt of the vaccine.

“The H1N1 virus is a new influenza virus that causes illness in people,” according to the Center for Disease Control Web site. “This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April. On June 11, the World Health Organization signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway. This virus was originally referred to as ‘swine flu’ because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird genes and human genes. Scientists call this a ‘quadruple reassortant’ virus.”

The virus is contagious and is thought to spread the same way the seasonal flu does. Symptoms of the “swine flu” include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue; some people experience vomiting and diarrhea.

“People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1 and have respiratory symptoms without a fever,” according to the Web site. “Severe illnesses and deaths have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus. Illness with 2009 H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe. While most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have occurred.”

The base will be receiving two vaccines, one from the state for beneficiaries, and the second from the Defense Supply Center for all DoD personnel, said Georgette Dougherty, public health emergency officer with the NHCL.

“The DoD vaccine is required for all active-duty personnel per the assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs,” said Glenee Smith, director of public health with NHCL.

With the state vaccine, the CDC has identified certain target groups; people ages six months to 24 years of age, pregnant women, health care and emergency personnel, medical and providers who care for infants up to children of six months of age, and people ages 25 to 64 who have a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk for influenza related complications, said Smith.

“We have a process in place to vaccinate the population (here) as the vaccines arrive,” said Dougherty.

Besides getting the vaccine, here are some helpful everyday tips to staying healthy; wash hands with warm, soapy water and often, try not to touch nose, eyes and mouth, avoid contact with sick people, stay home if sick, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, toss out used tissues, teach kids to cover coughs and sneezes, and get enough sleep.

For more information about the H1N1 virus and vaccine or to see a question and answer sheet, visit www.cdc.gov and www.med.navy.mil.

Further details on the vaccine to include a schedule and location for the vaccinations will be posted soon.