Saturday, October 10, 2009

Overseas Airports May Screen For H1N1 Symptoms
Washington (CBS)

With the holiday season just a few weeks away, there are fears that the swine flu will pick up right along with air travel. Now, officials in other countries may screen those traveling internationally from the United States as a precaution.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration say, however, that such screenings are not taking place at travel hubs within America.

A warning from tells travelers:

"Due to the outbreak of H1N1 (Swine) flu occurring in the United States and many other countries, airport staff in some countries may check the health of arriving passengers. Travelers from the United States arriving in other countries may be checked for fever and other symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu, and their travel may be delayed."

The site says that when you travel internationally from the United States, officials in other countries may ask you to:

-Pass through a scanning device that checks your temperature. (The device may look like an airport metal detector, a camera, or a handheld device.)
-Have your temperature taken with an oral or ear thermometer
-Fill out a sheet of questions about your health
-Review information about the symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu
-Give your address, phone number, and other contact information
-Be quarantined for a period of time if a passenger on your flight is found to have symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu
-Contact health authorities in the country you are visiting to let them know if you become ill

In addition, the site says "If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms or are suspected to have H1N1 (Swine) flu based on screening, you may be asked to:

-Be isolated from other people until you are well
-Have a medical examination
-Take a rapid flu test (which consists of a nasal swab sample)
-Be hospitalized and given medical treatment, if you test positive for H1N1 (Swine) flu

"It feels a little bit overboard," Stanford, Conn. resident Derek Ferguson said. "I'm all for it, I really am," Mount Vernon resident Rosa Raspaldo said. "Because – guaranteed – if people are coughing on the plane, all of those germs will be spread around."

But the H1N1 virus isn't just a danger in the skies. Buses and trains can also be a breeding ground for germs. Millions of riders climb aboard every day, and that has many taking precautions."

I keep antiseptic in my purse and I use it all the time," said New York City resident Rose Donato.

Donato is a daily commuter, and says she isn't relying on others to take responsibility for her health.

"We're in Grand Central – I'm sure there are people that are sick and are walking around, and are spraying their germs all over the place," Donato said.

New York, along with other transportation agencies around the country, is posting signs reminding customers to keep their sneezes and coughs to themselves. It's common sense advice that doctors echo.

"Get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, and you've really done the most that almost anybody can do to protect against influenza," Dr. Michael Phillips, of New York University's Langone Medical Center, said.

The first doses of swine flu vaccine arrived earlier this week, but new polls show that many people don't plan to get it. Flu shot or not, experts say that healthy habits will help make sure that, when you travel, germs don't take the trip with you.

If you have questions about the swine flu, check out our online resource guide here, including what you need for a swine flu survival kit. You can also check out information on screenings for travelers here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Exercise can extend life even in 'oldest old'

AP Medical Writer - Chicago

Even in the "oldest old," a little physical activity goes a long way, extending life by at least a few years for people in their mid- to late 80s, Israeli researchers found. The three-year survival rate was about three times higher for active 85-year-olds compared with those who were inactive. Getting less than four hours of exercise weekly was considered inactive; more than that was active.

The results "clearly support the continued encouragement of physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start," the researchers wrote in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, which published the study. They noted that exercise reaped benefits even for previously sedentary 85-year-olds; their three-year survival rate was double that of inactive 85-year-olds. Oldsters didn't have to be super-athletes to live longer; walking at least four hours weekly counted, even if it was just in 15-minute strolls a few times daily.

"As little as four hours a week was as beneficial as more vigorous or prolonged activity," said study author Dr. Jeremy Jacobs, a geriatric specialist at Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. Active octogenarians also reported less depression and loneliness and a greater ability to perform daily tasks. Similar benefits have been shown in people in their 60s and 70s, but there has been little research about exercise benefits in people in their 80s.

The study involved 1,861 Jerusalem residents who were 70 years old in 1990. Participants filled out questionnaires about their health and activity levels through 2008. At age 85, 64 percent were physically active, a relatively high percentage that reflects the Israeli lifestyle, Jacobs said. But he said similar benefits from exercise likely would be seen among the very old in other countries. There were 512 deaths. Slightly fewer than 7 percent of the active 85-year-olds died by age 88, versus about 24 percent of those who were inactive.

Jacobs said the researchers took into account factors that also affect survival, including participants' overall health and whether they smoked, and still found that activity levels were strongly related to longevity.

Dr. James Webster, a professor of geriatric medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said the study can't completely rule out that participants who were able to exercise were already healthier than the others, and thus likely to live longer.
Still, Webster said the link between octogenarian exercise and longevity appears valid. He was not involved in the study.

Laura Thorp, a researcher at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, said very old patients who want to increase their activity should do so under a doctor's supervision. Still, Thorp said, "Even those who are not exercisers or athletes can start and still see substantial benefits."