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Using the Web to Diagnose Swine Flu

Are you wondering whether you or your kid is sick enough to see a doctor to get treated for swine flu?

There are two web sites available to help you out -- one from the federal government and one developed by Microsoft Corp. and doctors at Emory University.

If you click on either the federal government's site or site from Microsoft and Emory, you'll see they ask a series of questions about whether you or your child is suffering from a fever or other symptoms or has any other health problems.

It may tell you that it is indeed swine flu, known officially as the 2009 H1N1 virus, but that all you need to do is rest and get plenty of fluids. Or it may say you should seek immediate medical attention because you may be more seriously ill.

The sites are part of a broader effort to minimize the number of people who are running to the doctor or the local emergency room because they are worried about swine flu. Officials are concerned that the health system could get overwhelmed if that happens. Most people who get the virus will suffer relatively mild symptoms and recover without needing to see a doctor. But there are some people who are at risk, such as pregnant women and people with other health problems, including asthma, diabetes and obesity.

By Rob Stein  |  October 7, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Influenza  
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We need to get serious about hands-on prevention, which is why I must share this tip: My child came home from school saying they learned to cough and sneeze into their elbow with Germy Wormie, and I was totally taken aback. I always covered with my hands. But I went to the website and now I get it, hands touch, elbows don't!! Kids can touch 300 surfaces in 1/2 hour and they hate to wash their hands. This is a simple thing that can make a huge difference. And this is effective regardless of the existence of a vaccine.

Posted by: marymoran1 | October 7, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Bogus is about all I can say.

Apparently the evaluation in question eliminates the possibility of 2009 H1N1 when you answer "no" to the question involving fever. The problem is that 30 percent of confirmed cases of H1N1 flu do not have fever associated with it. And in some of those cases, patients have become gravely ill and died.

So can we perhaps try again?

Posted by: crisp11 | October 7, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Another online tool for consumers is A.D.A.M.’s new FeelingFlu website which is designed to help people quickly assess whether or not they are in a high risk group and if should get vaccinated right away. It also helps them understand what to do regarding their symptoms (and it doesn't use fever as a binary indicator of swine flu). Here’s the link:

Posted by: rickleach | October 8, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

These links are not helpful for use with determining whether your child is sick enough to see the doctor. Both explicitly exclude children from the assessment. They are only for use with adults.

Posted by: csmwapo | October 8, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

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