People wearing masks at Hong Kong International Airport
Yes, we’re sick of the scaremongering, paranoia and misinformation. While we’re already cringing every time someone sneezes in the office or metro, we’ve realized what real paranoia is after spending the weekend in Hong Kong: doormats being disinfected every half hour, people talking through masks, masks being sold at every convenient store and an entire hotel being put under quarantine.
Nonetheless, as anyone who’s ever watched Outbreak understands, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to potentially airborne viruses. Yesterday ParkwayHealth sent out a newsletter with tips from the World Health Organization for identifying, preventing and treating H1N1, Influenza A, Swine Flu or whatever you want to call it.
Here are the important bits to know:
What is Influenza A (H1N1)?
The current virus Influenza A (H1N1) is caused by one of several influenza viruses. It is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs. It is not yet known how easily the virus can spread between people, though human-to-human transmission has already occurred. The current WHO global alert level is now phase 5* (out of 6). In China there are no confirmed cases only suspected ones in China as of 4 May 2009.
How is Influenza A (H1N1) spread?
Influenza A (H1N1) is spread in the same way as seasonal flu, from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. It is possible to become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching the mouth or nose. Those infected with the virus can spread it to others one day before symptoms develop and a week or more after becoming sick. Young children may be contagious for longer periods.
What are the signs and symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) in humans?
Symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) in humans are similar to that of the regular flu, including fever (usually over 38.5 degrees C or 101 degrees F), runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, aching body, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses including pneumonia and respiratory failure have been reported as being caused by Influenza A (H1N1) in people. The virus may heighten the severity of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Is it safe to eat pork meat and pork products?
Yes, Influenza A (H1N1) has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork.
How can I prevent getting infected?
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay away from crowded areas. Stay home if you are sick as this will prevent the spread of the flu to others. Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands after coughing and sneezing. Wash your hands frequently to protect yourself and others from the germs. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Your hands may have touched surfaces that have respiratory droplets on them and germs can be spread this way. Clean surfaces of work areas frequently with an alcohol wipe. Ensure you are well rested, eat well balanced meals, and drink plenty of fluids. Be sure to keep physically active and manage your stress.
What to do if you get sick?
Stay home from school or work. Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest. Avoid alcohol and tobacco products. Consider over the counter medications to help relieve symptoms of the flu.Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed. Do not give cough and cold medicines to children without checking with your child’s doctor first. Cold compresses placed on the head, axilla and groin areas may help decrease fever.Deep breathing and coughing will help to mobilize secretions in the lungs and respiratory tract. Replace fluids lost by diarrhea and vomiting. Oral rehydration fluids are available or diluted juice at room temperature are good options. Serious illnesses from the flu are more likely to occur in people who are over 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and in children. The use of Tamiflu or Relenza for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with the Influenza A (H1N1) is recommended by the CDC. Taking antiviral drugs such as pills, liquids or inhalers within two days of experiencing symptoms can provide relief and may prevent serious complications. Be aware of the emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention.
Emergency warning signs
- Fast breathing and difficulty in breathing
- Skin around ribs retracts with breathing
- Nostrils flare when breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Unable to drink enough fluids
- Children urinating less often than usual
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Child does not want to be held and continues to be irritable
- Flu like symptoms improve but return with a worse cough and fever
- Fever with a rash
- Difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure
- Abdominal pain or pressure
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms seek
- medical attention immediately.
If you require an ambulance Dial 120.
Before reading the symptoms, we were pretty sure that every breath we wheezed was a sign that swine flu had hit. But today, we’re feeling pretty fine. The point: Don’t panic, just be informed and be careful!
Photo from ChinaTravel.net.
ChinaTravel.net posted the full newsletter to their travel forum.