Do I still need to worry about the H1N1 virus?

November 12, 2012

Do I still need to worry about the H1N1 virus?

Should I worry about contracting swine flu even though it is no longer in the media?

Swine flu, or H1N1, first appeared in 2009 as a new ‘flu virus which caused some fatalities. The virus appeared to spread quickly from person-to-person and in June of that year the World Health Organization declared that the world was in the grip of an H1N1 pandemic. In fact after October of 2009 the so called swine flu virus appeared to decline but remains in circulation.

Swine ‘flu facts

The H1N1 is contagious and spreads from person to person similarly to seasonal ‘flu – coughing, sneezing, direct contact with those infected. It is thought that the virus can survive on surfaces and that it can then infect someone who touches that same surface. The symptoms of H1N1 are, of course, very similar to regular ‘flu symptoms – fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny or blocked nose, headache and generalized aches and pains, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. There may well be respiratory symptoms with no fever. Cases of the H1N1 have resulted in severe illness and a number of deaths – although most people do recover without the need of urgent medical attention or hospital admission.

At risk groups

As with regular seasonal ‘flu certain groups of people may be at more risk than others, this is not just due to the virus but also from the development of serious complications as a result of the virus. These include -

  • Over 65s

  • Under 5s

  • Pregnant women

Those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and kidney disease.

Complications

Most people who contract H1N1 will fully recover from the illness with no difficulty; however, for some people there complications may develop such as -

  • Pneumonia

  • Bronchitis

  • Sinus and/or ear infection

  • Worsening of existing medical problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Prevention

The contagious period of H1N1 is thought to be at least 7 days after a patient becomes sick, it is important to develop good practice in order to avoid becoming sick.

  • Those in high risk groups must get the vaccine

  • When coughing or sneezing use tissues and immediately throw them away and wash your hands

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water

  • Don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth

  • Avoid close contact with those that are sick if possible

  • Be prepared at home in case of sickness – buy in some over the counter pain killers etc. Buy alcohol wipes or sprays and use them regularly.

If you get sick…

If you do contract the swine ‘flu virus it is important that you take steps to avoid infecting others – especially those in the high risk groups.

  • Stay at home

  • Stay away from other people as much as possible – especially avoid crowded areas.

  • Always use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the used tissue immediately.

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.

With sensible precautions it is possible to minimize the risk of contracting any ‘flu – not just swine

‘flu.

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