I am passing along information I got today from the Florida Department of Health. Please note the tips for avoiding swine flu: they are common sense and will help protect you against a wide variety of illnesses. Don’t panic about swine flu. Just pay attention to health news (please don’t rely on Fox…just watch them for the entertainment value and of course, Glenn Richards and the weather report) and WASH YOUR HANDS. I also want to direct your attention to the last line: swine flu can range from mild to severe. This means that IF a case of swine flu is diagnosed in Florida, it’s probably still not necessary to panic. Okay. Now have a lovely evening.
The State’s response plan for swine flu is in play. Doctors are working with local health departments and state labs have the equipment and personnel necessary to safely identify influenza samples. Sentinel physicians, over 100 statewide, are prepared to report “unusual influenza like activity” to the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The State can monitor the sale of over the counter drugs as an early warning sign for increased flu activity.
The State Surgeon General provided these recommendations:
1. People with respiratory illness should stay home from work or school so they don’t spread infections to others in the community. This is true even when there is no increased flu activity.
2. People should avoid close contact with other peole who are coughing or otherwise appear. This is true even when there is no increased flu activity.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
4. Wash hands frequently to lessen the spread of respiratory illness
5. If you experience cough, fever and fatigue, with possible diarrhea and vomiting, contact your physician. This is good advice even if there is not a flu outbreak.
6. If you think you have influenza, please call your health care provider and discuss whether you need to be seen in their office or emergency department or stay home.
YOU CANNOT GET SWINE FLU FROM EATING PORK OR OTHER FOODS.
This infection seems to spread from person to person. Antiviral drugs can reduce the consequences of contracting the flu if taken early.
As of April 28, there are no cases of swine flu in Florida. Florida County Health Departments have detailed plans in place to respond to any outbreak. The State has a strong system to identify possible influenza cases.
Swine flu is contagious and spreads from human to human. But now it not known how easily the virus spreads between people. It appears that it spreads in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
To keep from getting the flu, first and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms). Contact your doctor to see if you should receive anti virals.
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.
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 like 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.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with influenza, DOH recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. we recommend that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash
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
Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe.