Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Don’t panic. Swine flu is only a possibility.

This LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. clinic on Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, along with the other three clinics operated by LaSalle, has temporarily been converted to a flu treatment center. Many people sick with flu symptoms have visited a LaSalle clinic in recent days, a few were tested for swine flu, but LaSalle has not yet treated anyone with a confirmed case of swine flu.

(San Bernardino, CA) LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. has temporarily converted its medical clinics to “Flu Treatment and Prevention Centers” to deal with patients’ concern over the swine flu virus. But only a few patients have symptoms that could be linked to the swine flu, said Dr. Albert Arteaga, CEO of LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc.

“We halted all operations except checking people who have come in with flu symptoms,” Dr. Arteaga said. “We have recently seen 300 to 350 people a day at our clinics with flu symptoms. Of those, we recommended three or four be tested for swine flu and only a few of these actually received treatment with Tamiflu or another antiviral drug.”

 Only one case of swine flu has been positively identified in San Bernardino County as of May 1 and this did not involve a LaSalle patient. The case was identified in a Marine stationed in Twenty-Nine Palms.

The media’s high publicity of the swine flu pandemic may have caused undue concern, Dr. Arteaga said. Still, it was necessary that word get out about this disease. He compared it to the necessity of a doctor giving patients a warning about possible side effects of prescription drugs.

“Sometimes people feel the side effects before they even take the medication,” he said. “When we hear a warning over and over again, our suggestive nature makes people think that what is a possibility has become a reality.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Arteaga encourages people with flu symptoms to seek medical attention.

“Don’t panic. Swine flu is only a possibility,” he said. “But it is a possibility with serious repercussions.”

“It is a strain of Type A influenza, which causes tiredness, body aches, fever along with a cough and sore throat,” Dr. Arteaga explained. “As with all strains of influenza, there are other potential complications such as internal infections, pneumonia and possibly even death.”

According to public health officials, swine flu has killed more than 150 people in Mexico and one in Texas.  Many others, especially in Mexico, have been sick enough to require hospitalization. In California, there have been 16 positive cases of swine flu and 43 probable as of May 1.

This strain of flu is resistant to flu vaccines that have been developed so far. However, flu vaccines are modified every year to include new strains.

According to founder Dr. Arteaga, the primary mission of LaSalle’s clinics is “to offer high quality medical care to the whole family with courtesy and respect.” And, right now, that is to help people with flu symptoms.

The LaSalle medical clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, and 16455 Main St. in Hesperia 

For additional information about LaSalle Medical Associates, call (909) 890-0407 or go on line to lasallemedical.com.