The swine flu, also called the H1N1 Flu, is a strain of influenza that has spread through the population of several countries including the United States in 2009. It is spread through human-to-human contact through coughing, sneezing, direct and even indirect touching. Symptoms are typical of the flu: body aches and chills, cough, fever, sore throat and vomiting to name a few.
Swine Flu Precautions the Public Can Take
There are a number of swine flu precautions that the public can take to lower their risk of contracting the virus. Here are some examples:
Wash Your Hands
Frequent hand washing is one way to help prevent the spread of the swine flu.
Use Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers
In situations where you want to clean your hands but soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They can be used when the hands are not visibly dirty but you want to make sure they are clean.
Take Care When Coughing or Sneezing
If you need to sneeze, try to do so into a tissue. Dispose of it into a waste receptacle promptly. Wash your hands as soon as you can.
If a tissue isn't available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or the sleeve of your clothing instead of covering your nose and mouth with your hands. You should still wash your hands as soon as you can after coughing or sneezing. If you cough or sneeze, you can spread the virus to anyone within six feet where you are sitting or standing.
Stay at Home if You are Feeling Sick
People who are not feeling well should stay at home until their fever has subsided for at least 24 hours without using a medication to bring it down to a normal level. A person who has symptoms of the swine flu is contagious for several days after they develop symptoms. With the exception of going to see a doctor, the patient should stay at home or travel until they recover. Most people who develop swine flu will need to stay home from work or school for between three and five days.
Get a Flu Shot
When the H1N1 Flu shot becomes available in your area, talk to your doctor about whether you or your family should receive one.
Incubation Period for Swine Flu
People who have the swine flu can spread the virus for up to eight days after they develop symptoms. However, normally healthy individuals who contract this disease and get it treated early on, can be feeling better within a matter of a few days. In some cases, though, the flu has been known to last for a few weeks.
Groups at High Risk for Swine Flu
The following categories of the population are considered at high risk for complications if they develop the H1N1 flu:
- Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy
- Children under two years old
- Elderly people over the age of 65
- Individuals living in nursing homes
- Those with immunosuppressive conditions, such as people with HIV
- Pregnant women
- Transplant patients taking anti-rejection drugs
People who have the following medical conditions are also at high risk for becoming severely ill or developing complications if they get the swine flu:
- Blood disorders
- Chronic lung conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cardiovascular disease, with the exception of high blood pressure
- Kidney disorders
- Liver problems
- Neurological disorders
Keeping Perspective About Swine Flu
Swine flu can cause serious complications and some patients who contract the virus have died. Most people who get swine flu have a relatively mild illness and recover without having to be hospitalized. Taking swine flu precautions can help to prevent the virus from spreading, so make them a part of your regular routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a complete overview of the flu.