Showing posts with label swine flu. Show all posts

How to Protect Others When Someone Has Flu

flu prevention tips

Someone in the house has been diagnosed with the flu. This places others in the household, especially close contacts (those within six feet of the sick person), at risk for developing an influenza infection as well. While providing basic care, home caregivers of a person with the flu can protect themselves and others from unnecessary exposure to the influenza virus, may benefit from anti-viral prophylactic treatment, and can use sanitary practices that may lessen the spread of flu germs.

Are People in the Household High Risk for Flu Complications?

People who are high risk for complications of the flu should contact their healthcare provider regarding whether or not to obtain anti-viral treatment if they are in close contact with someone diagnosed with the flu.

High risk groups for serious complications from the flu include, but are not limited to, those who are:
  • 65 years old and older
  • Pregnant or are within two weeks of an ended pregnancy
  • Diagnosed with a chronic illness such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease
  • Young children, especially younger than two but children up to age four may be higher risk than older children
  • Receiving treatments that decrease immunity, such as certain cancer treatments

If possible, people who are at high risk for complications from the flu should avoid exposure to people who have flu-like symptoms. If the primary caregiver in the home is in a high-risk category, ideally another caregiver should be designated to care for the person with flu symptoms. If another caregiver is not an option, try to limit exposure as much as possible.

Many people who are in high-risk categories are encouraged to get the flu shot, and people in their household may also be encouraged to get the influenza vaccine whether or not the high-risk person is eligible for the shot, but the vaccine will not help someone who has already developed flu-like symptoms. People who get the seasonal influenza shot and/or the H1N1 (swine) flu shot can still get the flu.

How to Help Prevent the Spread of Flu in the Home

Below are some ways to protect others in the household if someone has the flu, if possible:
Tips for seeking the advice of a healthcare professional include:
  • Others in the home may contact their healthcare provider or a flu hotline to see if they should obtain a prescription for anti-viral medications, whether or not they are in a high risk category for flu complications.
  • If others in the home begin to have flu-like symptoms, they should contact a healthcare provider or flu hotline.

Tips for limiting exposure to the flu virus include:
  • Avoid close contact with the sick person by having that person stay in a separate room with a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Encourage visitors to call rather than to visit in person.
  • Have the ill person or others in the same room wear face masks.
  • Designate one person, preferably someone that is not high risk for complications, to care for the sick person.
  • Avoid having a sick person to care for those who are high risk for complications of the flu, such as infants or elderly members of the household.
  • Have all persons in the household cover their coughs or sneezes with their inner arm. People who are carrying small children who are coughing and/or sneezing may protect themselves by carrying the child with his chin on the caregiver’s shoulder.

Cleaning tips in the home when someone has the flu include:
  • Wash hands appropriately and frequently. For more information on handwashing, see the article entitled Washing Hands Saves Lives.
  • Consider using paper towels rather than cloth towels during the infectious phase.
  • Ensure that all disposable items, such as tissues, used by the infected person are put in the trash after use.
  • Keep surfaces and other items in the home as clean as possible by disinfecting them per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Common eating utensils should be washed before another person uses them.
  • Dirty linens should be handled carefully and washed with laundry detergent and dried on a hot setting. Readers may wish to read How to Make a Bed With Someone in It.

Protecting Others When Someone Has the Flu at Home


When someone in a household is diagnosed with the flu, others are at risk for developing influenza as well. Other contacts within the home, especially those at risk for serious complications of the flu, can use these guidelines to help protect themselves and others from getting the flu as well. No preventive measures will guarantee that others will not get the flu, but these guidelines may help lessen the flu symptoms of close contacts if they do get the viral infection as well.

Although the source listed below is geared toward H1N1 or swine flu, many of the suggestions above can help if someone in the household has seasonal flu as well.

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Avoiding H1N1 Influenza

H1N1 Influenza
There are many things that can be done to avoid contracting the Swine flu virus. Some of them are common sense and some of them are absurd and bred out of fear. What needs to be remembered is that this is a flu virus much the same as flu viruses that circulate yearly. And much the same, life must continue and people must utilize strategic and thoughtful ways to avoid, combat, and carry on. Listed below are signs and symptoms of normal life amidst a global flu pandemic.

Symptom #1 Rational Thinking and Absence of Panic

Turning off the television is an integral step in escaping the fear propagated by hourly updates of Swine flu statistics and potential lack of vaccinations available. There is simply too much information coming in and it is difficult to filter out what is pertinent and what is being used to increase viewership, and what is just plain sensationalistic. So, if turning off the TV and considering that this is a flu virus like any other without succumbing to a panic attack is a possibility, it is likely that infection of both flu and fear have been avoided.

Symptom #2 Taking Risks in the Face of Fear

It has been said and repeated over and over again. Probably the most common advice given to prevent H1N1 spread or any other infection is to wash hands often. This is not only to combat the flu but it is just good sense. And if this is done, one need not be afraid to go out in public; to grab the door handle; to push the shopping cart; to pay with cash. After all, there are much more valid fears out there which go by undetected and ignored everywhere, everyday.

Symptom #3 Showing off Fall Fashions

The wind is cooler, the leaves are changing, the nose is running during a brisk walk in the woods and the back of a wool mitten is the only substitute for Kleenex around. Fall is a time of cozy earth toned fashion as much as it marks the beginning of cold and flu season. Except there is one thing often ignored: All of the woodland creatures chattering and foraging and crackling in the crisp foliage are not suffering from H1N1. Getting out of the house, breathing fresh air, expelling a little energy with a mild aerobic workout in a naturally beautiful setting is one of the best, most invigorating and life sustaining things a person can do at any time. Has there ever been such thing as a depressed squirrel in the wild? Put on that new matching wool sweater and scarf and show them off, even if it’s just for a few docile deer.

Symptom #4 Accepting an Invitation to a Public Gathering

Deactivate Facebook, sign out of MSN, Tweet “brb” or even better “gtg.” Go to the staff party, meet someone new, shake their hand, and have a conversation face to face. This is not just to combat H1N1 fears but is generally a good idea. People are still people and human contact is necessary for sound mental health. The winter months are coming and the chances to participate are diminishing. After shaking someone’s hand it is not appropriate or necessary to immediately retrieve the little bottle of hand sanitizer. All signs indicate a healthy immune system.

Symptom #5 Travel and Tourism

The island paradise is still there and the tickets are non-refundable. If anything, the heat and sun and seclusion will alleviate all imagined flu symptoms picked up in the airport. Of course none of these symptoms are valid, just as they aren’t in ninety-nine percent of the other travellers in Pearson or JFK or Heathrow airports. The hotel sheets and remote control are no more suspect than ever before. Consider that the neighbour just backpacked for 3 months across Europe and he is alive and well. Showing off a deep golden tan next to a mountainous fridgid snowbank upon return is the ultimate victory.

So if any of these symptoms are present and active, then it is likely that so far, H1N1 influenza type A, also known as Swine flu, has been thus far avoided.

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Swine Flu Vaccine

swine flu
The swine flu vaccine is being ushered out five months after H1N1 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Health care workers and emergency responders will be among the first to receive the vaccine. The government is expected to give out 25 million doses by the end of 2009.

Swine Flu Vaccine Safety

Since the swine flu vaccine was rushed out in record time, people have concerns over the safety of the product. Health officials have stated, though, that testing was thorough and corners were not cut to get the vaccine out in time.

Concerns over rare side effects, such as Guillian-Barre syndrome, that occurred from the 1976 swine flu vaccine, are legitimate because it is impossible to know in advance what rare side effects may occur from a vaccine. However, officials have stressed that the 1976 vaccine was a less purified version and Guillian-Barre paralysis affected 2 out of every 100,000 people.

The swine flu vaccine will be monitored closely for side effects. The military, who are required to take the vaccine, will be closely watched for any side effects. In addition, electronic medical records of hospitals and health insurance companies are being monitored in “real time” for any evidence of side effects.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy

Government health officials are strongly advising all pregnant women to get the swine flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 pregnant women have been hospitalized and 28 have died from the end of April to the end of August. The rate of hospitalization and death for pregnant women is six times that of the general population.

A pregnant woman’s immune system undergoes changes when she is pregnant causing her to be more susceptible to viruses. Health officials have seen no indication of side effects from the H1N1 vaccine in pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Children

Health officials are recommending that children and young adults up to 24 years old be among the first to get vaccinated, especially if they have underlying health problems such as asthma. Several states, including Arkansas and Pennsylvania, have ear-marked their first shipment of swine flu vaccines for in-school vaccinations.

Children under age 10 will require two doses of vaccine, three weeks apart. Swine flu has affected mostly younger children, perhaps because their immune systems have not been exposed to as many viruses as adults.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Seniors

Unlike the regular flu vaccine, seniors are not recommended to get the initial dose of swine flu vaccine. The swine flu has rarely affected those age 65 or older. The Centers for Disease Control urges seniors to get the seasonal flu vaccine first and see a health professional if they come down with flu-like symptoms.

Nasal Spray Vaccine is the First Dose of Swine Flu Vaccine

FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine, is being offered initially because it was made available sooner than shots. Because the FluMist is made of live but weakened flu virus, it should only be used for healthy people aged 2 to 40. People with egg allergies should also use the FluMist. Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions should not use the FluMist.

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