Help Prevent the Spread of Seasonal and H1N1 Influenza
U.S. healthcare officials and world health agencies are all closely tuned in to the progression of both seasonal flu and the novel H1N1 strain. Additionally, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is also keeping close watch to provide patients—and the public—with useful information for staying healthy and preventing their spread this season.
Getting vaccinated is the first step for preventing infection with the flu virus. Seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against H1N1 flu. A new vaccine is in production for H1N1 and is expected to be available in October 2009.
It’s also important that people recognize and heed the warning signs of the flu. Symptoms include having a fever of 100 degrees F or higher, in addition to a cough or sore throat. Additional ailments often follow, and they can include body aches, headaches, chills, vomiting, and fatigue. When experiencing any of these symptoms it’s best to stay away from others and a call to your doctor. Most often, a home-based regimen of rest, fluids and fever and pain reducers is what is needed. But, if more serious symptoms are present, such as difficulty breathing or severe pain, it may be necessary to be seen by a physician.
Other precautions can also help prevent the spread of forms of the flu:
- Practice good hand hygiene
Thoroughly wash your hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer gels and wipes as often as possible
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- If you are sick, stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever reducers
- Talk with a physician if you have questions
This is especially important if you are a member of a high-risk group including:
- Pregnant women
- Adults 65 and over
- Children under 5
- Individuals with certain chronic or immunosuppressive conditions
- Individuals under 19 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- Maintain good general health
Getting adequate rest, staying physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating balanced meals are healthy habits that can lessen the possibility of becoming ill or spreading the flu
When in doubt, always call your physician. More information about seasonal flu and the H1N1 strain can be found at the following Web sites: