Local Teens Describe Their Experiences With Swine Flu

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swine flu was predictably mild during the warm summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, but some people caught it anyway. Since it was unlikely that regular flu was circulating at this time of year, doctors believed any apparent cases of flu that they saw were probably caused by the H1N1 virus. Following are some local teens' experiences, as told to Washington Post staff writer Kathryn Tolbert.

Alison Kelin, 15, Washington

I had been at camp for two weeks. We were leaving for a three-day trip to Boston that day. I felt kind of sick, like I had a cold. I decided to go to the nurse's office and get medicine. But I had a fever, so they wouldn't let me go on the trip. With three other kids I went to a hospital. They tested us for flu.

We weren't allowed to be in our cabins. We were quarantined for a week in the health center and given Tamiflu. The highest my temperature got was 102.4. It was like basic cold symptoms but 10 times worse. It hurt to swallow and I could barely talk for about three days, and [then] it started to ease up.

Kind of cool being able to say I did have swine flu. It's not too horrible, actually. It's the kind of thing that happens, but not to you.

Amy McAlister, 14, Potomac

My cousin was visiting from Massachusetts, and they were sick, the mother and a little cousin, with a fever. After they left I had a sore throat at first and a little bit of a cough and congestion. I thought it was a cold. I was getting slightly worse, around 101 degrees.

I went to the doctor when it hit 103. He did a rapid test. He said he was pretty sure it was swine flu. It was not the regular flu season, and he had six cases that day.

On the way to the doctor, my mom and I were joking: "You're going to have swine flu. Ha ha ha."

When he said that I had swine flu, my mom and I laughed. "Okay, what do I really have?" He said, "Yeah, I think that's what you have." Oh, my God. At first I thought, "Am I gonna die?" He said no, it's just a mild case. Some people were getting Tamiflu, but I wasn't allowed to have it because I wasn't a high-risk case.

I was very weak. My temperature got as high as 103.5. I could not move. I almost felt so hot I felt I was burning. My mother put [an] ice-water cloth on my head, and it turned warm right away. It wasn't that long for me -- five days. So I got lucky.

Samantha Overstreet, 14, Alexandria

I was at camp, and they had to close a day and a half early because of the swine flu outbreak.

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