Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swine Flu Panic Wanes, But Virus Is Here To Stay

For just over a month, the LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. clinics were only flu treatment centers to cope with the public’s concern about swine flu. Now, business is back to normal at LaSalle clinics. La Salle President Dr. Alebert Arteaga and his associates focus on providing quality affordable health care, as in this photo where he is overseeing signups for low-cost prescription programs. Photo by Carl Dameron

(SAN BERNARDINO, CA) A month ago, many were panicking as a newly-discovered, sometimes deadly strain of influenza, known as “swine flu,” made its way from Mexico to the United States.

To deal with the concerns of its patients, LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. temporarily converted its medical clinics to “Flu Treatment and Prevention Centers” and saw more than 300 people a day with flu symptoms. Less than four weeks later, as the spread of this flu strain waned, LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. returned to business as normal.

Still, swine flu, officially known as “novel H1N1 influenza A” hasn’t gone away. In May, San Bernardino County recorded its first death from swine flu, also the first death in the state, although the patient had other serious health issues as well.

Medical experts warn there could be many new cases when the flu season returns this fall.

“Because this is a new virus, most people will not have immunity to it, so the illness may become more widespread and severe as a result,” said Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, San Bernardino County Health Officer.

It’s possible to contract swine flu and other types of influenza at any time of year, even in summer. So, LaSalle Medical Associates and the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health work together to educate people about preventing spread of this virus.

“Swine flu is a Type A strain of influenza that can cause body aches, coughs, sore throats, fevers above 100 degrees, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea,” Dr. Arteaga explained. “As with all strains of influenza, there are other potential more serious complications, possibly even death.”

To limit the spread of swine flu, Dr. Arteaga urges anyone with the above symptoms to stay home from school and work until they are well, and limit contact with others. They also should contact a health care provider, especially if worried about the symptoms.

Everyone should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, wash hands frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitizer, and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Also, healthy people should to the extent possible, avoid contact with those who have flu symptoms and avoid large gatherings.

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.” LaSalle accepts most insurance, and is also an affordable option for many without health care coverage.

As of early June, there were 114 cases of swine flu in San Bernardino County.

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.

For more information about swine flu, contact the Center for Disease Control at or by calling 1-800-236-4636, or the California Department of Public Health at or 1-888-865-0564. The state health department also maintains with additional information.

The San Bernardino County Public Health Department also can provide information on its toll-free number, 1-800-782-4264, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its website is

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