For the three months or so my neck of the woods (Upstate SC, Western NC) has been somewhere you just don’t want to be.
Hundreds of people have been sick with a bronchitis of unknown origins – it’s not cold, not flu, and not specifically reported – although one very probable culprit is the Haemophilus Influenzae B superbug bacteria. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haemophilus_influenzae)
The symptoms of this disease follow a specific progression thus rendering it easily identifiable to the doctors, nurses, and patients I have spoken with or which my medical system courier husband has spoken with.
It begins as an innocious post-nasal drip, becomes a mild cough, becomes a deep chest cough, migrates to the head and becomes a full bore sinus congestive “cold like” disorder with ear, nose, and sinus blockage, is followed by a period of constant nose running and coughing, and then moves back into the chest and linges there forever.
Low blood oxygen saturation, air hunger, and feelings of weakness are the final phase.
But it’s the duration that is the real kicker. This stuff lasts 4-8 weeks with the cold like phase taking in a solid week of that.
Sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, dizziness, fainting, and ER visits are common. I have heard hearsay evidence of two deaths due to oxygen deprivation (both elderly patients.)
Also flu medications, antivirals, and penicillin based antibiotics do not touch this disease at all.
Doctors and nurse practitioners I have spoken with, for the majority, believe this is probably HI B, not a flu or a cold, and have largely been reduced to prescribing bed rest, fluids, tetracycline and heavy gauge antibiotics, hot showers to break up mucus, low temperatures (HI B hates the cold), and staying at home.
These medical professionals have all been upset by the fact that most of the contagious people go to work, make others sick, and then collapse and end up back in their offices. Part of this is to blame on the local work culture – bosses threaten to fire people who do not come into work and sick leave is measured in hours 12-24 but even so emergency rooms and doctors offices are swamped by this stuff.
Many of those I spoke with are also puzzled by the lack of media coverage of this disease as my own doctor said he was getting “dozens of cases a day” and others I spoke to said “half their patients had it”.
I have also spoken to patients who said things like “everyone at the office has it”, “half of our servers are out with it”, “Everyone on my row (aseembly line) has had it” and so on. The two teachers I have spoken with say that classrooms are also heavily hit with “one third” to “half” of the class or staff being absent.
Of the eleven cases I can report on first hand – mine and family members – the breakdown was thus:
|Patient||Duration||Emergency aid||Dr. Aid||Medications||Loss of work hours||Age||Complications|
|Me||8 wks and counting||ER visit,
|Examination, advice, flu swab and bacterial culture –
HI B positive
|None||N/A||37||Flu swab negative
|A.G.||4 wks||ER-ICU stay-2 weeks||Flu swab negative, antibiotics, respirator||2 antibiotic cycles, one penicillin based, one not||N/A||40||Immunosuppressant for psoriasis|
|M.G||3 wks||Dr. appt||Flu swab negative||Antibiotic cycle||N/A||40|
|S.S.||5 wks||ER, Dr. Appt||Flu Swab negative – dx – HI B positive||Non-penicillin antibiotic cycle||32||66|
|D.C.||8 wk||Urgent Care||Flu Swab negative||Antibiotics (penicillin), antivirals – still very ill – going to ask for new meds||12 -chose to return to work sick||34|
|C.H.||3 wks||ER, Dr. Appt||Flu swab negative||Non-penicillin antibiotics||N/A||50||Parkinsons|
|E.H||4 wks||ER, Dr. Appt||Flu swab negative, bacteria culture positve – HI B||Non-penicillin antibiotics||32||18||Tested for bacteria as has been world traveler – screening thus more rigorous|
|P.H.||5 wks||ER||Flu Swab negative||Non-penicillin antibiotics||N/A||17|
|S.G.||3 wks||ER, Dr. Appt||Flu swab negative||Penicillin antibiotics – not effective, starting non-penicillin cycle today||N/A||79|
|J.D||6 wks||ER||Flu Swab negative –
HI B positive
|K.P.||6wks||ER, ER, ER||Flu swab negative||Non penicillin||36||35|
So why isn’t this news? Why have I not seen anything about it online or on the air or heard about it on the radio? 10 cases of measles and three cases of leprosy are medically speaking absolutely nothing – they are not even statistically relevant – but 20 plus people a day at just one doctor’s office?
So why nothing?
All I can say is if you are in the South this month – especially my region – wear a mask, wash your hands compulsively, and don’t eat out.
Or you will get sick, you will stay sick, and apparently no one will care!