- Swine Flu: A guide for parents
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- Health Library
- H1N1 (Swine Flu) Information
- What is H1N1 (swine) flu?
- What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people?
- How do you catch H1N1 flu?
- How long can an infected person spread H1N1 flu to others?
- What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
- What should I do if I get sick?
- Can I get H1N1influenza from eating or preparing pork?
- Swine Flu Symptoms – How to Protect Your Kid from Swine Flu
- Get Your Child Vaccinated ASAP
- Remember Both Vaccines
- Cover the Basics
- Know the Symptoms — and Tell Your Kids
- Do Not Send a Sick Kid to School
- Keep Your Cool
- Is the Flu Vaccine a Good Idea for Your Family?
- Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
- What Are the Types of Flu Vaccine?
- Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine
- When Should Kids Get the Flu Vaccine?
- Swine Flu: 10 Things Not to Do
- Swine flu – protecting your family
- Good hygiene
- Sneeze into a tissue
- Wash your hands often
- Use hand sanitiser
- Avoid touching your face
- Surgical masks
- When you’re sick
- Watch your children
- Avoid crowds and busy places
- Avoid shaking hands and kissing
- Antiviral medicines
- 5 Ways to Protect Yourself (and Others) from Swine Flu
- Protecting Your Children From Swine Flu
Swine Flu: A guide for parents
The swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, is all over the news. A string of cases have been reported across the United States, as well as across the globe, with Mexico the hardest hit country, so far.
Older kids, who may be scared but hide it, should be reassured that parents and health officials are on top of it.
It's easy to freak out amid these disturbing reports, but the truth is you're probably doing everything you need to do to protect your family.
“Parents should be aware of what public health officials are saying, and then just be extra vigilant about the precautions they'd normally take to prevent the spread of germs,” says Joseph Bocchini, M.D., chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases and pediatrics chair of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
No. 1 on the list: washing hands more frequently. So take a deep breath, put down the surgical mask, and read on for all information you need to know. Parenting.com: Cold and flu old wives' tales
Signs and symptoms
Indicators of swine flu are not un those for regular old run-of-the-mill flu. What makes this virus different from typical flu is that more serious complications, such as pneumonia, might occur more often. Also, says Bocchini, this is a new strain of flu, and no one in the population would be expected to be immune.
One of the biggest concerns for officials is simply that a lot of people could get sick at the same time.
Take heart in knowing that our government health officials are doing everything they can to make sure the country's prepared. In the mean time, your job is to know how to spot the signs.
If you or your child are experiencing any of the following, call your doctor. He or she may want you to come in and be tested. Parenting.com: Interactive symptom checker
• fever (above 100.4 for babies 3 months and younger, and 101.1 for everyone else), plus
• sore throat
• intense body aches
Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting, too.
Pregnant women are at extra risk for complications even with regular flu, according to Bocchini, and small children have a higher rate of hospitalization. Both expectant women and moms of kids under 2 should be extra careful about taking action quickly. Parenting.com: How to keep nosy, germy strangers away from your baby
When to head to the ER
If your child demonstrates any of the following symptoms, it's time to seek emergency care:
• Fast or troubled breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Refusal to drink fluids
• Difficulty waking up and/or interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu- symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash, especially one that does not blanch
In adults, the following symptoms deserve an ER trip as well:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest
• Abdominal pain
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
How to talk to your kids about It
As always, you'll want to explain to kids that germs can make us sick, and that's why it's important to wash your hands. You can say, “Soap and water rinse away the little buggers so they can't make us feel bad.”
If they've caught wind of swine flu in particular, it's important to project an image of calm (even if you're internally flipping out) and make them feel safe.
Small kids should be soothed with a simple explanation that there are different kinds of flu, and we should just keep up with washing up.
Older kids, who may be scared but hide it, can be given a few more details but should still be reassured that their parents and our health officials are on top of it.
Easing symptoms and treatment
If you come down with the flu, swine or otherwise, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself comfortable.
• If you or your child feel at all flu-ish, skip work and school. Stay home until you feel completely well.
• Try to stay in a separate area of the house to limit the risk of passing the virus.
• Rest up — consider it your free pass to catch up on your DVR list.
• Push clear fluids, such as water and soup.
• Ease body aches with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. If your child is under 2, check with your doctor before giving them medication.
• Using a humidifier can ease a stuffy nose. Saline drops followed by suctioning with a nasal syringe can bring additional relief to small children.
• There is treatment for swine flu. Antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza can lessen your symptoms make you feel better faster and prevent swine flu-related complications if taken early on. Consult your doctor about a prescription.
Is there a cure?
There's not a cure, but a vaccine is being developed, according to the FDA. If you already got a flu shot, it probably won't protect you from this strain, but it's a good idea to still get one annually.
You probably already know all about how to prevent the spread of germs, but in an outbreak this, it can't hurt to be a little more vigilant. Here's a rundown of easy things you can do, starting today. Parenting.com: Ask Dr. Sears: Immune system boosters
• This one's a no-brainer but bears repeating: wash your hands frequently, and make sure your kids do the same. It's a good idea to get into the habit of doing it as soon as you walk in the door, before meals and food prep, post-potty and after touching pets.
• Take a moment to clean germ hot spots, tables, doorknobs, desks and kitchen counters, with a disinfectant. Look for products that contain bleach or alcohol.
• Keep your family's immune system strong with regular sleep, and lots of fruits and veggies. If you know anyone who's been sick, stay away for now.
Out and about:
• Try to keep up the frequent hand-washing, especially after trips to the playground.
• If you don't have a sink handy, use an alcohol-based sanitizer gel or wipe. Look for ones that contain at least 60% alcohol.
• Try to avoid crowded areas.
• Wash your hands or use sanitizer after handling money.
• Use your own pen when signing credit card slips.
• Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and remind your kiddos to do the same.
• Throw your used tissue in the trash instead of stuffing it in your pocket.
• Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, which give germs a fast track to infection.
• Remind kids not to share cups, utensils and plates with friends.
Getting kids to wash their hands
Yes, you know they should wash those dirty mitts often, but what you really need to know is how to get them to do it sans whining. We've got some tips and tricks for making washing up fun:
• To get them to soap up for the required 20 seconds (or more), belt out “Happy Birthday” twice. Everyone sounds better in the bathroom anyway, right?
• Fill the sink with water, and let them go to town with foam soaps and bath toys. (Ignore the water on the floor.) Parenting.com: Germ-fighting tips for parents
• Lather up, Mom! Be a good example for your kids, and encourage them to “teach” their dolls to wash up, too.
• Make sure they can reach the sink easily. If you don't have one already, get a colorful stool to give them a boost.
• Keep their fingernails clipped — less real estate for germs!
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All About Swine Flu
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H1N1 (Swine Flu) Information
You have most ly heard of the recent H1N1 (swine flu) virus outbreak in Mexico, with a number of cases being reported in the United States and worldwide.
We want to provide you with information about the H1N1 virus, including the signs and symptoms as well as possible ways to protect yourself from getting sick.
The Student Health Center is continuing to monitor the situation and should it escalate dramatically, we will send an update with further information. Should the situation become serious, Villanova University does have an emergency plan in place.
For additional information, you can check the CDC (Center for Disease Control) web site, or call the 800 number listed at the bottom of this email. In addition, students may call the Student Health Center at 610-519-4070, and employees are encouraged to call their family physician.
What is H1N1 (swine) flu?
H1N1 Influenza is a respiratory disease that originates in pigs, but can be transferred to humans. The H1N1 flu virus can spread from person to person also.
What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How do you catch H1N1 flu?
Spread of H1N1 flu can occur in two ways:
- Through contact with a person with H1N1 flu. Human-to-human spread of H1N1 flu has been documented and is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- Through contact with infected pigs or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses.
- Is this H1N1 flu virus contagious? CDC has determined that this virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
How long can an infected person spread H1N1 flu to others?
People with H1N1 influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses influenza.
Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
What should I do if I get sick?
For students, visit or contact the Student Health Center.
For employees, you should stay home from work and contact your family physician.
For students, you should limit your contact with other students and come to the Student Health Center for evaluation, diagnosis, and medical care. If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
Can I get H1N1influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. H1N1 influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get H1N1 influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
Swine Flu Symptoms – How to Protect Your Kid from Swine Flu
It's the topic on every parent's mind: H1N1 swine flu. On October 23, President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving hospitals and local governments more power to act quickly if needed. But what can your family do? To find out, GH spoke to leading experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Get Your Child Vaccinated ASAP
“It's the most important thing parents can do,” says Georgina Peacock, M.D., pediatrician and co-lead of the CDC's H1N1 children's health team. Peacock also is the mother of four children — all of whom have gotten this season's vaccines.
Young people ages 6 months to 24 years are a priority group for the H1N1 vaccine, since the virus can spread quickly through schools and day-care centers.
To find vaccinations near you, contact your local health department or use this Flu Shot Locator.
Remember Both Vaccines
There are two separate vaccines: the H1N1 swine flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine. Children should get both as soon as possible. Both are available as a nasal spray (for healthy people ages 2 to 49) and as a shot (for ages 6 months and up).
Some local health departments, pharmacies, and schools are organizing vaccination clinics, so stay tuned in — and sign up right away. “The H1N1 vaccine is being produced and shipped out as fast as possible, and eventually there will be enough for everybody,” says Dr.
If you're concerned about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, remember that it's made just the way a seasonal flu shot is. Your child can expect a little soreness and swelling where the shot was given, but those are the most common side effects. Learn more by visiting the CDC's Vaccine Safety page.
Cover the Basics
Make sure you and your kids follow these hygiene rules:
- Wash your hands often with soap and running water, especially after coming in from the outside, before eating and fixing food, and after using the bathroom. And take your time. Each wash should last about 30 seconds. With young children, a good trick to be sure they wash long enough is to sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday twice. If you're not near a faucet, rub hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. No tissue at hand? Cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Teach kids to keep their hands their eyes, nose, and mouth. You too.
Know the Symptoms — and Tell Your Kids
Sit down and have a calm conversation about H1N1 symptoms and how the virus spreads. Explain that primary symptoms include fever, sore throat, and cough.
Some people also have a runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Swine flu spreads through contact with infected people, especially those who are coughing or sneezing.
Flu can also live on countertops, computer keyboards, and other surfaces for two to eight hours. That's why hand-washing is so important.
Do Not Send a Sick Kid to School
Call your doctor immediately, and then keep your child home until at least 24 hours after he or she no longer has a fever (100° F) without fever-reducing medication, Tylenol.
Try to set your child up in a separate room in the house, away from healthy siblings who could potentially get sick.
Also, as you'd do on regular sick days, make sure your child gets plenty of rest and clear fluids.
Keep Your Cool
Some children have gotten extremely sick from H1N1, but most have what's considered a mild form of the illness and recover without any problem. So stay calm, and click over to the CDC for up-to-date information.
Is the Flu Vaccine a Good Idea for Your Family?
The flu vaccine is a good idea for all families. It does not cause the flu and it helps keep kids and parents from getting sick. Getting the flu is worse than having a cold and can make a person sick for a week or more.
Babies younger than 6 months old can't get the vaccine. But if their parents, other caregivers, and older kids in the household get it, that will help protect the baby. This is important because infants are more at risk for health problems from the flu.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
But it's especially important for those who are at greater risk of developing health problems from the flu, including:
- all kids 6 months through 4 years old (babies younger than 6 months are also considered high risk, but they cannot receive the flu vaccine)
- anyone 65 years and older
- all women who are pregnant, are thinking about becoming pregnant, have recently given birth, or are breastfeeding during flu season
- anyone whose immune system is weak from medicines or illnesses ( HIV infection)
- people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
- anyone (adults, teens, and kids) with an ongoing medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes
- kids or teens who take aspirin regularly and are at risk for developing Reye syndrome if they get the flu
- caregivers or household contacts of anyone in a high-risk group ( children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than 6 months, and those with high-risk conditions)
Some things might prevent a person from getting the flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor to see if the vaccine is still recommended if your child:
What Are the Types of Flu Vaccine?
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 2019–2020 flu season. Both protect against four types of influenza virus:
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, a mist which gets sprayed into the nostrils
In the past, the nasal spray vaccine wasn't recommended for kids because it didn't seem to work well enough. The newer version appears to work as well as the shot. So either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child's age and general health.
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 2–49. People with weak immune systems or some health conditions (such as asthma) and pregnant women should not get the nasal spray vaccine.
Vaccine shortages and delays sometimes happen. So check with your doctor about vaccine availability, which vaccine is right for your kids, and how many doses they need.
Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine
In the past, people with an egg allergy had to check with their doctor about whether the flu vaccine was OK for them because it's grown inside eggs. But health experts now say that the amount of egg protein in the vaccine is so tiny that it's safe even for kids with a severe egg allergy. This is especially important during a severe flu season.
Still, a child with an egg allergy should get the flu vaccine in a doctor's office, not at a supermarket, drugstore, or other venue.
If your child is sick and has a fever, or is wheezing, talk to your doctor about whether to reschedule the vaccine.
When Should Kids Get the Flu Vaccine?
Flu season runs from October to May. It's best to get a flu shot as early in the season as possible, ideally before the end of October. This gives the body time to build its protection from the flu. But getting the vaccine later in the season is still better than not getting it at all.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2019
Swine Flu: 10 Things Not to Do
From the WebMD Archives
Swine flu (H1N1) has been in the news since it first appeared this spring, and while there have been deaths and hospitalizations in countries worldwide, most cases have been relatively mild. And now, there is an H1N1 swine flu vaccine, too.
That's the good news. But the bad news is, swine flu can still be serious, and it's still widespread.
With that in mind, here are 10 swine flu “don'ts” — things not to do for swine flu prevention.
The seasonal flu vaccine doesn't protect against swine flu. The H1N1 swine flu vaccine is a separate vaccination.
Your best bet is to get both vaccines. Seasonal flu can be serious, especially for infants, elders, and people with weak immune systems. The CDC notes that seasonal flu or its complications kill an average of 36,000 people per year in the U.S. and hospitalize more than 200,000 people.
Getting vaccinated each year against seasonal flu is the single best way to protect against seasonal flu, according to the CDC.
According to the CDC, it's not clear how effective face masks are at preventing the transmission of the H1N1 or seasonal influenza viruses. The same is true for N95 respirators worn snugly over the face as filters.
The CDC doesn't recommend face masks or respirators in most settings to avoid catching swine flu, except if you're at high risk of severe illness from influenza and are caring for someone who has a flu- illness, or for high-risk people who can't avoid being in a crowded setting where the swine flu virus is present.
But the CDC does recommend that sick people wear a face mask to avoid spreading their illness if they must be in close contact with other people. However, don't rely on a face mask as your only protection — you still need to take other swine flu prevention steps:
- Wash your hands often.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- If you've got flu- symptoms, avoid others until you've been free of fever for 24 hours.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people with flu- illness.
If you do wear a face mask, don't reuse it. Face masks should be worn once and then thrown out.
The guest of honor at a swine flu party is someone who's got swine flu. The point is for other guests to catch the virus in the hopes that they'll have a mild illness and gain immunity so that they won't get sick if the H1N1 virus worsens.
That's a bad idea, according to the CDC, because there's no way to know whether swine flu will be severe or fatal in swine flu party guests — or anyone else that they, in turn, infect.
One of the CDC's golden rules for dealing with swine flu is for sick people to stay home. That means planning ahead in case you or someone in your family gets sick.
As WebMD reported in early August, the CDC wants schools to try to stay open, but sick children should stay home. The CDC has also issued guidelines for colleges, universities, and businesses on how to deal with swine flu.
Workers may want to look into how their company handles sick leave or time off to care for someone with swine flu. And you might also want to stock up on tissues, disinfectants, and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers for work and home.
Flu viruses can linger on books, toys, countertops, doorknobs, phones, linens, eating utensils, and other objects. Use a household disinfectant, following the directions on the products' label.
The CDC recommends that when you launder linens of someone who has the flu, don’t hug the laundry before washing it, and set the clothes dryer to the hot setting. Wash your hands with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand gel) immediately after handling dirty laundry.
Don't shrug off swine flu precautions. Here are the CDC's tips for reducing swine flu infection:
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your arm — not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you have been free of fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, or signs of fever, without using fever-reducing medicines.
The U.K.'s National Health System notes that when someone sick with flu talks, sneezes, spits, or coughs, infected flu droplets can travel at least 1 meter (about 3.3. feet). The NHS recommends that when you use a tissue, you throw it out after one use.
Although there is no reason to panic, there is good reason to get vaccinated and seek prompt medical care for flu symptoms if you're in a high-risk group. People who are high priorities for H1N1 vaccination are:
- Pregnant women
- People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
- Health care and emergency medical services personnel
- People between the ages of 6 months and 24 years
- People ages 25-64 who have chronic health conditions or weak immune systems
Those symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue; diarrhea and vomiting may also be symptoms of swine flu.
Unless you're going to get medical care, stay home to avoid infecting others. That means not going to work or school, not running your normal errands, and not traveling. By staying home, you'll help prevent other people from getting sick.
How long do you need to stay home? The CDC recommends waiting until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or signs of fever, without taking fever-reducing medicines.
The CDC urges people to seek emergency medical care for a sick child with any of these symptoms:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu- symptoms improve but then return with fever and cough
And here is the CDC's list of symptoms that should trigger emergency medical care for adults:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu- symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Having a high fever for more than three days is another danger sign, according to the WHO.
Children need to do the same things as adults — stay home when sick, avoid sick people, cough and sneeze into a tissue, and wash their hands.
The CDC recommends teaching kids to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while washing their hands with soap and water, so that they wash their hands for 20 seconds. Another CDC suggestion: Tell kids to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are sick.
Those pointers also work for grown-ups.
CDC: “Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.”
CDC: “Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use to ReduceNovel Influenza A(H1N1) Virus Transmission.”
CDC: “Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You.”
CDC:” General Business and Workplace Guidance for the Prevention of NovelInfluenza A(H1N1) Flu in Workers.”
National Health System: “Alert: Important Information About Swine Flu.”
National Health System: “Swine Flu Information.”
World Health Organization: “Influenza A(H1N1): Lessons Learned andPreparedness.”
CDC: “What to Do If You Get Flu- Symptoms: Emergency Warning Signs.”
CDC: “Advice for Parents on Talking to Children About Novel H1N1 Flu(Formerly Swine Flu) Concerns.”
World Health Organization: “Behavioral Interventions for Reducing theTransmission and Impact of Influenza A(H1N1) Virus: A Framework forCommunication Strategies.”
WebMD Health News: ” CDC: Keep Schools Open If Swine Flu Hits.”
WebMD Health News: ” New Swine Flu Guidelines for Colleges, Work.”
WebMD Feature: ” Can a Mask Prevent Swine Flu?”
CDC: “Questions and Answers: 2009 H1N1 Recommendations.”
© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Swine flu – protecting your family
What can you do to try to protect your family from swine flu? Read these simple measures you can take to avoid catching and spreading swine flu – also known as swine influenza, pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009, and influenza A (H1N1).
Even before a person is showing symptoms of influenza they can be infectious and shedding influenza virus, infecting the people around them – so it’s important to always follow these good hygiene measures. These measures will not only help to protect you from swine influenza, but from other influenza viruses, such as human or avian (bird) flu.
Sneeze into a tissue
Always sneeze into a tissue and make sure you cover your nose and mouth. Throw the tissue in the dustbin afterwards. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.
Wash your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
Use hand sanitiser
Use a hand sanitiser gel to clean your hands when you can’t access soap and water. These alcohol-based hand cleaners are available from supermarkets and pharmacies and are useful for when you’re out and about.
Avoid touching your face
Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes. This will help prevent you from picking up viruses from contaminated surfaces and infecting yourself.
The effectiveness of a surgical mask depends upon its quality. The idea is that wearing a surgical mask can reduce the risk of you being infected by droplets and should also prevent you from touching your nose and mouth. Experts disagree on whether surgical masks, as worn by the general public, actually reduce the risk of contracting swine flu.
It is, however, recommended that if you have influenza and need to use public transport that you wear a mask to contain the virus.
When you’re sick
Stay at home and limit your contact with other people to avoid infecting them. Don’t go to work or school if you are sick.
Watch your children
Be vigilant for signs and symptoms of influenza in your children. These include fever, headache, chills, body or muscle ache, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue. Teach them hygiene measures frequent hand-washing, and to cough and sneeze into a tissue. If you child appears sick with flu symptoms, keep them away from school or child care and seek medical attention.
Avoid crowds and busy places
Flu spreads rapidly in places where people crowd together, so try to avoid busy places if possible.
Avoid shaking hands and kissing
Shaking hands and kissing are both ways of transmitting the influenza virus from person to person, so you might want to consider avoiding close contact.
If you get flu symptoms, such as runny nose, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and sore throat, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication (e.g. Relenza (zanamivir) or Tamiflu (oseltamivir) that can shorten the duration of the illness. These are most effective if taken as soon as possible after symptoms develop, so be sure to call your doctor as soon as you can.
1. Bean B, Moore BM, Sterner B et al. Survival of influenza virus on environmental surfaces. J Infect Dis July 1982;146(1):47-51 2. Influenza Specialist Group. www.influenzaspecialistgroup.org.au/content/view/20/31
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Pandemic Influenza: protecting yourself and others (information issued 2011, 19 Jan; current at 2011, June 16). http://www.flupandemic.gov.au/internet/panflu/publishing.
nsf/Content/protecting-1 (accessed 2011, Jun 16).
5 Ways to Protect Yourself (and Others) from Swine Flu
Experts say that the steps you should take to shield yourself from swine flu are not much different than those you might take to ward off seasonal flu.
1. Don't touch your face
Above all, keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose, all of which serve as pathways for the virus to enter your respiratory tract, says Allison Aiello, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.
2. Wash your hands
If you must touch your face, scrub your hands, getting under the fingernails and inside all crevices, for 20 to 30 seconds with hot soap and water beforehand, Aiello says. “In addition to dislodging dirt that may contain virus particles, soaps contain surfactants [the primary components of detergents] which can damage the lipid [fat] protecting virus particles,” she explains. Soap should therefore be effective against all flu viruses.
3. Use a hand sanitizer
No sink nearby? Then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Aiello advises. About a quarter-size spot, rubbed all over the hands until the sanitizer evaporates (usually 10 to 15 seconds), should do it. Alcohol can inactivate viruses by destroying the structure of their proteins, she notes.
Cover your nose and mouth
When someone sneezes or coughs, liquid droplets packing flu viruses can travel as far as three feet (one meter) through the air and descend on your nose or mouth, so it's best to maintain at least an arm's-length distance when talking to someone who shows signs of infection, says Louise Dembry, director of epidemiology at Yale–New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. And to protect others, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and clean your hands afterward, she says, noting that viruses can remain infectious for hours, if not longer, when they linger on the skin or other surfaces such as keyboards and subway poles.
5. Consider buying a mask in case you need it in the future
From press photos, it seems that Mexico's entire population has donned surgical masks, but the verdict is still out on how effective they are in stemming the spread of flu, according to Aiello. Some research suggests that masks—either the surgical variety or respirators called N95's specially designed to filter out water droplets containing viruses—reduce the risk of contracting the flu or other respiratory pathogens by as much as 80 percent, but research by Aiello's team suggests that masks do little unless used in conjunction with diligent hand washing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is “extremely limited” data on the effectiveness of face masks and respirators for blocking flu spread in communities.
The agency suggests, however, that people consider using them when it's impossible to avoid “crowded settings or close contact with others” in areas where swine flu transmission has been confirmed: face masks for crowded places and respirators for situations that involve close contact with people who have respiratory infections (caring for a sick family member, for example).
For more on swine flu, see our In-Depth Report.
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Protecting Your Children From Swine Flu
With swine flu spreading rapidly throughout the country, you may be worried about your children's health. Children, after all, especially those under 5, are often most vulnerable to the seasonal flu and its related complications.
Every year, more than 20,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized because of seasonal flu, and in the 2007-2008 season, 86 children died nationwide from flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You know good hygiene frequent hand-washing plays a role in preventing the spread of the swine flu. But should you also be giving your kids medication such as Tamiflu and Relenza, which have been shown effective against influenza, even if they're not showing symptoms of swine flu?
In a nutshell, no.
“There's no reason to give children Tamiflu when they're asymptomatic,” says Christian Sandrock, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California Davis Medical Center, deputy health officer of Yolo County in California, and an expert in infectious diseases and pulmonary and critical care medicine. “Even though studies among college students have shown that taking Tamiflu once a day through the flu season is as effective as getting a flu shot, kids usually don't tolerate Tamiflu well.”
For starters, children must be at least 1 year old before they can take Tamiflu or Relenza.
The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting, but there can also be abdominal pain, nosebleeds, ear problems, and pinkeye, according to the CDC.
Children and teens who take Tamiflu or Relenza are also at an increased risk of seizures, confusion, and abnormal behavior. Psychological side effects depression and suicide have even been reported, Sandrock says.
The one caveat: If your child has a chronic health condition cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy and is traveling to a high-risk area or has come in contact with someone who's had the swine flu, they're at higher risk of developing the flu and could be a candidate for Tamiflu or Relenza.
Fortunately, though, there are ways to keep your children safe besides giving them medications. Good hygiene, of course, is critical, so encourage them to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
To make it easier for them, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you and have them use it frequently (you too!). Also, instruct them to cough politely, using either a tissue (and then throwing it away) or the inside of their elbow to shield their cough. And have them avoid contact with anybody who's been infected.
Whenever possible, sneezing should also be into a tissue that is then disposed of properly (and hands washed afterwards).
Know what's going on in your community and what local health officials are saying about the swine flu.
For instance, have any cases been reported in your area? If so, how many and where were they? Are health officials warning you not to congregate in public areas, or, is the swine flu threat not as serious in your area yet? “Knowing the answers to these questions will tell you how to respond,” Sandrock says.
You should also pay attention to kids who are playing with your children. If they show any signs of sickness, call their parents. And if you find out that a parent has sent a sick child to school, express your concern to that parent, Sandrock says.
Even with these precautions, if your child shows swine flu symptoms (which include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue) or has been exposed to someone with swine flu, call your family physician and ask if your child should be tested. You should also limit your child's exposure to other people.
The good news, though, is this: “When caught early,” Sandrock says, “swine flu is treatable.” And according to the CDC, to date, most cases have been mild and self-limited.