US Pharm. 2009;34(5):3.
As I write this column, the number of diagnosed cases of Swine Influenza A in the U.S. is on the rise, and fear is sweeping the nation. The federal government declared a public health emergency to make sure that proper resources are in place should the numbers continue to increase exponentially worldwide. Many health organizations around the globe--including the World Health Organization, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services--are monitoring the situation closely. While widespread panic has not set in, a rapid increase in the number of cases or deaths will certainly fuel any underlying anxieties that people across the globe are feeling. This health crisis has prompted more questions than answers, which will undoubtedly put a strain on already overburdened health care systems. As one of the most accessible health care professionals, pharmacists in this country stand ready to answer the plethora of questions many patients will be asking about the signs and symptoms of swine flu and its treatment.
Pharmacists are no strangers to dealing with fear. After 9/11, pharmacists were on the front line answering questions about possible bioterrorism, which, at the time, appeared to be an imminent threat to the U.S. They had to deal with questions about anthrax and some relatively unknown deadly gaseous chemicals that were already being used in terrorist attacks around the world.
Even as far back as the mid-1980s, when HIV/AIDS raised its ugly head in this country, pharmacists played a major role in counseling patients face to face who were trying to deal with a relatively unknown disease that was initially thought to be a death sentence for those who contracted the virus. Rumors were rampant, but educated pharmacists put fears to rest with their excellent patient-counseling skills. While the medical and pharmaceutical communities have made great strides in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, some 25 years, later pharmacists are still counseling patients on this devastating disease. And, nearly every day, pharmacists in every corner of this country face patients with cancer and other serious illnesses, calming their fears by counseling them with clinical information provided to them by
Now, pharmacists are facing yet another patient-counseling challenge. This one, unfortunately, has a little different complexion to it since the symptoms are common to many other diseases. That's why it is incumbent on pharmacists to gain as much information about swine flu as possible, because the questions will keep coming until this pandemic is brought under control. U.S. Pharmacist will do everything in its power to make sure that pharmacists have the information they need to assuage patients' fears by providing them with useful clinical information about swine flu and its treatment. While everyone continues to watch these stressful events unfold in the days ahead, one thing for which we can all be thankful is that pharmacists will continue to mitigate the fear that is gripping the nation by their thoughtful and insightful counseling efforts.
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