It appears that this outbreak of North American Influenza, or “swine flu” as it is generally known, may not be as widespread as once feared.
It’s important to know how to prevent yourself from catching the flu. It’s important to know what to do and when to seek care if you think that you have caught the flu.
How to reduce the risk of catching or spreading influenza through healthy habits: Wash your hands often with soap and water. This removes germs from your skin and helps prevent diseases from spreading; use waterless alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60% alcohol) when soap is not available and hands are not visibly dirty; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put your used tissue in a wastebasket; if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel; if you become sick you should avoid going into the public or attending work/school/conferences/travel until you are free of symptoms, unless traveling locally for medical care; f you travel to Mexico, pay close attention to your health for 7 days. If you become sick with a fever plus a cough, sore throat or have trouble breathing, see a doctor. Make sure you inform the doctor about your symptoms, and where you traveled.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has released recommendations on when to seek care.
The primary symptoms of swine flu generally have been high fever (above 101 degrees), along with a cough and sore throat. Most cases have been relatively mild so far and generally do not need emergency treatment. Most people who are at low-risk for complications can be safely treated at home with appropriate fluid intake, fever-reducing medication, rest and careful monitoring. However, emergency treatment would be appropriate for anyone with one of the following symptoms:
Difficulty breathing; dehydration symptoms (such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry); pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; purple or blue discoloration of the lips; unexplained confusion, unresponsiveness, sudden dizziness or seizures; severe or persistent vomiting.
DSHS officials recommend that people with flu-like symptoms who also have underlying health problems that can put them at higher risk of complications if they get the flu should see their doctor or other health care provider for guidance. Individuals with increased risk of complications include: Children under 5 years of age and especially infants under 12 months; adults and children who have chronic lung, heart, liver, blood, nerve, muscular or metabolic disorders, including asthma and diabetes; adults and children who have immunodeficiency or suppression (decreased resistance to infection); adults 50 years or older, especially those over 65; residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; children and adolescents (ages 6 months to 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after influenza virus infections
More information is available online at: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance_homecare.htm.