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How To Take Swine Flu Precautions


As schools across the United States get ready to open, it is a good time to review swine (H1N1) flu precautions. Clinicians are encouraged to consider swine flu infection in patients with febrile respiratory illness. We know the H1N1 flu is more serious for the persons less than 30 years of age, pregnant women, persons with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease), and the elderly.

Persons with febrile respiratory illness or flu symptoms should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections (including influenza and other respiratory illnesses) to others in their communities. In addition, one of the best way to lessen the spread of H1N1 flu and other respiratory illnesses is frequent hand washing.

Tips to help prevent the spread of H1N1 (swine) flu

* Wash your hands often with soap and water.

* 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. Try to cough or sneeze into your elbow / upper sleeve rather than your hand. If you use a tissue, dispose of it in a wastebasket and then wash your hands.

* Follow all local health recommendations. For example, you may be asked to put on a surgical mask to protect others.

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Seek medical care if you feel sick with flu symptoms

* If you are ill with fever and other swine flu symptoms like cough and sore throat, see a doctor, especially if you think you may have had contact with someone with swine flu or severe respiratory illness in the past 7 days before becoming ill.

* Antiviral Medications: The recommended antiviral drugs for H1N1 flu treatment are oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). Both are prescription drugs that fight against swine flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Your doctor may suggest you take them, but he/she may not. It will depend on how serious your infection is and your related co-morbidities (for example chronic lung disease).

When you make the appointment, tell the doctor the following:
o Your symptoms,
o Where you traveled, and
o If you have had close contact with a person infected with swine flu.

Avoid leaving your home while sick with the H1N1 flu except to get local medical care, or as instructed by your doctor. Do not go to work or school while ill with H1N1 flu. If you must leave your home (for example, to seek medical care) wear a surgical mask to keep from spreading your illness to others.

Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away used tissues in a trash can. Wash your hands with soap and water often and especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid close contact with other people as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask if you are in contact with other people.

CDC Health Advisory 000281
For more information about swine flu: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu
Additional information is also available by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)