Prevention of the flu, and protection from the virus, is really no different than any other cold or flu. Just remember “the simple things” are what work best – wash your hands a lot, don’t shake hands or hug or kiss people if you or they are sick, don’t go to work if you or others or sick (or self-qurantine yourself if you or others are sick).
Here are the simple tips for protecting you and your family from the flu:
1. Wash hands frequently: This will lessen the chance of carrying or transmitting any viruses that normally get stuck on the hands in day-to-day activities. Try to avoid rubbing eyes or touching nose with dirty hands. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
2. Try to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing: The CDC advises people to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after using it. Try to teach your kids to do the same. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
3. If experiencing flu-like symptoms, don’t go out — stay at home. Call a healthcare professional, particularly if a person has been to Mexico, southern California and southern Texas. The CDC recommends that people who get sick stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Also, if you see your healthcare professional within 24 hours of the start of symptoms, there are prescription medications that can reduce the length and severity of the flu.
More Ways to Protect Yourself From Swine Flu
4. Taking a trip to Mexico? Rethink your plans. Unless you have a compelling reason to go, you might want to reconsider. Many airlines, including Continental, US Airways and American Airlines, are waiving cancellation fees on tickets to Mexico.
5. Stay informed and plan ahead: Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in one’s community, and whether the authorities — such as the state or county health departments – have issued any recommendations. It’s a good idea to plan for what to do if children’s school is closed.
6. Keep sick kids out of school, and stay home from work if you are sick. Aside from providing needed rest, such absences protect others from catching whatever you or your kid has. Keep at least a few feet’s distance if you have the flu or are interacting with someone who has the flu. The communicable distance for most flu viruses is about three feet, so keep clear of this radius in order to avoid spread. If dealing with a flu case at home, make sure the flu sufferer (and even those who interact with this person) wear facial masks to lower the chances of spread.
7. Avoid surfaces and objects that may be handled by many people. For kids, this may include doctor’s office toys, surfaces that a lot of other kids are touching. Keep all surfaces and objects around the house clean. This becomes especially relevant if there is someone in that house who is sick or has the flu already. Try to teach kids not to touch their faces. This is like mass transit for germs: straight from the hands to the eyes, nose and mouth.
The CDC advises those who feel symptoms to contact their doctor right away. And finally, one myth that can be dispelled: There are no signs that people can get the swine flu from eating pork.
Here are some useful Web sites for more information:
CDC: How to Protect Yourself from the Flu
CDC’s Flu Toolkit
Preventing the flu
The Flu and Your Children