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Sunday, July 13, 2008

How To Protect Yourself From Getting Swine Influenza?


How can I protect myself from getting swine influenza from infected people?

In the past, human infection with swine influenza was generally mild but is known to have caused severe illness such as pneumonia.  For the current outbreaks in the United States and Mexico however, the clinical pictures have been different. None of the confirmed cases in the United States have had the severe form of the disease and the patients recovered from illness without requiring medical care. In Mexico, some patients reportedly had the severe form of the disease.

To protect yourself, practice general preventive measures for influenza: 
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly.
  • Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
If there is an ill person at home: 
  • Try to provide the ill person a separate section in the house.  If this is not possible, keep the patient at least 1 meter in distance from others.  
  • Cover mouth and nose when caring for the ill person.  Masks can be bought commercially or made using the readily available materials as long as they are disposed of or cleaned properly. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly after each contact with the ill person. 
  • Try to improve the air flow in the area where the ill person stays. Use doors and windows to take advantage of breezes. 
  • Keep the environment clean with readily available household cleaning agents. 
  • If you are living in a country where swine influenza has caused disease in humans, follow additional advice from national and local health authorities.
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What should I do if I think I have swine influenza?

If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough and/or sore throat: 
  • Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds as much as possible.
  • Rest and take plenty of fluids.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing and dispose of the used tissues properly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Inform family and friends about your illness and seek help for household chores that require contact with other people such as shopping.

If you need medical attention: 
  • Contact your doctor or healthcare provider before travelling to see them and report your symptoms. 
  • Explain why you think you have swine influenza (for example, if you have recently travelled to a country where there is a swine influenza outbreak in humans). 
  • Follow the advice given to you for care. 
  • If it is not possible to contact your healthcare provider in advance, communicate your suspicion of having swine influenza immediately upon arrival at the healthcare facility.
  • Take care to cover your nose and mouth during travel.

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