Nearly Half of Doctors in Poll Fear a "Catastrophic" Global Swine Flu Pandemic is Coming. Preparing For Sick Days a Must

Nearly half (48 percent) of 675 physicians polled by a research group believe the H1N1 virus poses some risk for a "catastrophic" global Swine Flu pandemic.

The study, done by HCD Research, tracked physicians' opinions weekly since April and found doctors' concerns at an all-time high.

"Our recent study revealed that the level of concern among physicians regarding a potential H1NI pandemic has somewhat spiked since our June 10 study," reported Glenn Kessler, president and CEO of HCD, in a press release issued Tuesday.

Already, there have been 211 deaths and 37,246 Swine Flu cases in the United States and U.S. territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Arizona is one of the moderately hit states, where there have been 11 deaths and 761 people infected since April. More than half of the fatalities were here in the state's largest county. The average age of those infected in Maricopa County was 31.

Arizona H1N1 cases have already reached pandemic level, says Arizona Department of Health Services spokeswoman Laura Oxley, though they are hardly catastrophic. Before it's over, Oxley says, health-care providers are expecting as much as a quarter of the population of Arizona to be infected by the Swine Flu virus.

"We expect the virus to be widespread because no one is immune," says Oxley.

Public-health experts have predicted that Swine Flu cases will start to rise dramatically during traditional flu season this fall and winter.

So what do you do if you get Swine Flu? First of all, don't panic. Most cases are mild, and H1N1 fatality rates are roughly the same as any other strain of flu. Don't go to the emergency room just because you have a mild fever, as you could be exposed to other illnesses and keep seriously ill people from receiving care.

Wash your hands, get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy foods.

And, most importantly, be prepared. The Arizona Department of Health Services is advising those who contract the H1N1 virus to stay home for seven days to avoid spreading the disease.

"Everyone needs to make a plan," says Oxley. "If your child has to stay home for a week, who will take care of [him or her]? If you get sick, who will do your grocery shopping? While we don't want people to be afraid, they need to be prepared for the worst."

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Malia Politzer
Contact: Malia Politzer