Over the weekend, Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith came down with flu-like symptoms and was concerned that it may have been H1N1, otherwise known as "swine flu." Now feeling better, he returned to the set with some questions about the potentially deadly virus.
Smith and Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez sat down with CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton on Wednesday to discuss H1N1, in another edition of "Ask It early."
"I was feeling ill over the weekend, really came down with a fever, and then kind of congestion and everything else," Smith said.
According to Smith on Sunday he called Ashton, who said "the symptoms absolutely look like H1N1."
A concerned Smith pointed out that they stopped testing for H1N1.
"That happened over the summer because once it became a pandemic, the H1N1 virus, we as a global health community needed to shift our focus from diagnosis, which takes a lot of time, money, resources to prevention and treatment on both ends of the spectrum," Ashton said. "When we spoke on Sunday, Harry, I said 'you normally don't get body aches and fever even a low-grade temperature with a general cold. It is presumed H1N1.'"
"The other part of this is, these full blown symptoms don't necessarily present themselves with H1N1," Smith added.
According to Ashton 30 to 50 percent of people with influenza can be mildly symptomatic or have no symptoms at all.
"You want to err on the side of caution, which we did, and assume it is," she said.
"At what point does someone have to go get checked out?" asked Rodriguez.
"Harry and I were in communication several times a day for the last several days. Harry of course has his own personal physicians and we stressed from the beginning - if you get worse, you need to then consider treatment with things like Tamiflu or presenting to a hospital so you can get an official test and subsequently more aggressive treatment if necessary," Ashton explained.
"Harry was in good health, but if someone has an underlying condition or is pregnant, they should go from the get go, right?" Rodriguez asked.
"The key is to communicate with your doctor, especially pregnant women or an underlying medical condition, sooner rather than later," Ashton said. "But even in Harry's state of health, we were on the phone very early when he started to feel sick."
Although they aren't generally testing anymore, Ashton said the tests "are available and the results can come in within a few hours."
But again Ashton stressed, "it's not going to change what we recommended to him. Stay home, supportive therapy, and so on."
Despite the H1N1 vaccine being available in October, "the normal flu vaccine, very difficult to get a hold of," Smith said.
"We just received ours in my practice yesterday. We had our order in a year ago," Ashton said. "The take home message here is they are starting to come out in pharmacies, hospitals, medical centers. However, they don't all arrive instantaneously. So they'll be staggered in their delivery and distribution just as the H1N1 vaccines will be, as well."
If you have any general medical questions you'd like to ask Dr. Ashton, go to twitter.com/drjashton or here, for a special report on H1N1.
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