Is prevention possible?
Prevention of (H1N1) virus infection in areas with confirmed human cases is possible. The risk of swine flu infection can be decreased by use of combination of actions and not by use of any single method. The following steps can help to decrease the risk of transmission of H1N1 virus and infection. These steps must be practiced daily to protect your health and health of people close to you
- Always use tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Dispose the tissue in waste bin after use.
- Use soap and water often to wash your hands, and if these are not available use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as the H1N1 virus spreads this way.
- If possible avoid close contact with people with flu like illness.
- If you have flu-like illness, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever resolves, other than to get medical care or for other essential needs. Avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of infection.
- Influenza antiviral medications also can help prevent H1N1 infection besides treating it. Take these medications as advised by your doctor.
[Read: High Risk Groups of H1N1]
Vaccination is useful for protection against H1N1 infection. Two shots are needed to protect against this infection. The seasonal flu or regular flu vaccine does not provide protection from H1N1 infection. The vaccine reduces your risk of infection as well as the risk of infection in people around you. It decreases the risk of swine flu complications and the need for antiviral medicines also.
[Read: Complications of Swine Flu]
Facemasks and N95 respirators probably prevent spread of viruses and bacteria from one person to another. These devices must be used along with other infection-control strategy such as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
A facemask is a loose-fitting, disposable device. On wearing, it acts a physical barrier and potentially prevents the spread of germs from airborne particles. An N95 respirator achieves a very close facial fit on wearing it. This device is a very efficient filter of germs in airborne particles. The filtration capability of a properly fitted N95 respirator is better than face masks. It blocks at least 95 percent of very small test particles.
The effectiveness of facemasks and respirators in reducing the risk of influenza infection in community settings has not been evaluated. Hence the efficacy of these masks in reducing the risk of influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the community setting and home is not known. The recommendations for their use to reduce the risk of influenza A (H1N1) virus infection are as follows
- Use of facemasks and N95 respirators in community and home settings is generally not recommended.
- In community and home settings, a facemask or respirator may be used by people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza.
- Use of N95 respirators or facemasks is not needed for workers in non-healthcare occupational settings for general work activities. Use may be considered by people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza.
- Use of N95 respirators or facemasks is suggested for workers in healthcare occupational settings if they care for persons with known, probable or suspected H1N1 or influenza-like illness.
- People at increased risk of severe illness from influenza in healthcare occupational settings should avoid contact with people who have influenza-like illness (ILI) (fever, cough or sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea). If this is not possible use of N95 respirators or facemasks is suggested.
- Use of face mask by persons ill with confirm.
- Use of face mask by persons ill with confirmed, probable, or suspected Influenza A (H1N1) to prevent transmission of infection is recommended at home, while breastfeeding, in community and health care settings.
- Care of Facemasks and N95 Respirators
- Do not share facemasks and N95 respirators. These become contaminated with germs (viruses and bacteria) on use which can possibly spread between people.
- Re-using disposable facemasks and N95 respirators should be avoided. Used facemasks and N95 respirators should disposed in regular trash immediately after removing.
- Reusable facemask can be used after it is washed. It should be cleaned with normal laundry detergent and dried if possible in a hot dryer. After removing a facemask or N95 respirator, hand must be washed with soap and water. If this is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used to clean hands.
Good hygiene can help to prevent the spread of germs (viruses and bacteria) and even Influenza A (H1N1) infection. Good hygiene measures include:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. This is one of the best way to prevent many common infections. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean hands.
- Clean all surfaces (such as door handles, remote control, hand rails, and computer keyboards) often to remove germs.
- Use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. Dispose the used tissue in trash as soon as possible.
- Ensure that children follow these advice.
Exercises do not prevent infection, but any regular cardiovascular exercise such as walking, biking, aerobics helps to boosts your immune system. In people who exercise regularly ---it is possible that the flu symptoms may be less severe and they may recover more quickly than people who aren't as fit.
Diet do & and donts
There is no perfect diet solution for prevention of Influenza A (H1N1) infection. Some do’s and dont’s of diet include:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet (plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of oil and fat).
- Make fruits and vegetables a regular part of your diet.
- Avoid sugars and processed foods as these may lower the function of your immune system. A strong immune system is needed to fight off germs (bacteria and viruses)
- Besides a healthy diet sleep adequately as poor sleep may lower your immunity.
Preventive measures against swine flu in schools
Some suggested actions are:
- Encourage good hygiene measures in the school among staff and students such as frequent hand washing, cleaning of all surfaces (such as door handles, desks, hand rails, and computer keyboards), and use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.
- Vigilantly watch for pupils and staff with symptoms of swine flu and take appropriate measures to isolate them.
- To avoid spreading the infection, advice staff and children not to attend school and interact with others if they have flu like illness (fever, cough or sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea). They should be encouraged to stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever resolves.
- If a child becomes unwell at school, isolate them under proper supervision until his or her parent/guardian can come to collect them.
- Have additional staff in case of some members of the staff are down with flu like illness.
- School closure for prevention of swine flu is not recommended. The virus is widespread within the community and the students and staff will probably be repeatedly exposed to the virus in their everyday lives. Hence school closure will probably not prevent or slow the spread of the virus.
- General distribution of antiviral medicines for prevention of swine flu is not recommended. The virus is widespread within the community and the students and staff will probably be repeatedly exposed to the virus in their everyday lives and will be at risk as soon as they have finished a course of antiviral medicine.
[Read: 10 Facts about Swine Flu]
Preventive measures against swine flu at work: Some suggested actions are:
To avoid spreading the infection advice workers not to report to work and interact with others if they have flu like illness (fever, cough or sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea).
Employees should be encouraged to stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever resolves (i.e. there are no signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications). Sick employees will be out for about 3 to 5 days in most cases, even after receiving antiviral medications.
To ensure that your sick employees do not report to work, have leave policies that are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and make your employees aware of these policies.
- Encourage good hygiene measures among the employees and at work place such as frequent hand washing with soap and water. If soap and water are not available use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- cleaning of all surfaces (such as door handles, desks, hand rails, elevator buttons and computer keyboards), and use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.
- Vigilantly watch for employees with symptoms of swine flu and take appropriate measures to isolate them.
- If an employee becomes unwell at work, separate them from other workers and ask them to go home promptly. Advice employees with influenza-like illness to wear a surgical mask before they go home if they cannot be isolated from others workers immediately.
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated for H1N1 infection.
- Employees at higher risk of complications from H1N1 infection should be advised to consult a health care provider if they become ill with flu like illness. Prompt treatment with antiviral medications in people at high risk of complications can help to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
- Employees who are ill should be advised to not travel while they are sick.
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