|Novel H1N1 Flu: Prevention
The novel flu virus spreads the same way as the seasonal flu virus. The main way that flu viruses are thought to spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Flu viruses may also be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object (such as a doorknob or telephone) and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands.
Currently a vaccine to protect against novel H1N1 flu is being tested in humans but is not expected to be available until October or November 2009. Once it is available, Dickinson County Public Health will begin vaccinating county residents in priority of possible flu risk complications order and eventually conduct H1N1 flu shot clinics. The vaccine will require one dose. Two doses will be required for children younger than 9 who have never been vaccinated before for the flu. Those two doses are recommended to be four weeks apart and at least 21 days apart. Please check this web site, especially under the “Novel H1N1 Flu: Local vaccine availability against novel H1N1 flu” section, as updates will be provided as soon as vaccine is available.
The regular seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against the novel H1N1 flu. However, you can still take everyday steps to protect your health:
• Avoid contact with sick persons.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or into your elbow. Throw used tissues in a trash can immediately.
• After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand gel. Follow these steps to properly wash your hands:
1. Wet hands completely with warm water.
2. Apply a generous amount of soap.
3. Spread soap using friction for at least 15 seconds and include all sides of hands, fingers, fingernails, and wrists.
4. Rinse completely.
5. Dry hands while water is still running.
6. Turn off water using a clean, dry paper towel.
• Stay informed. Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other social distancing measures. Visit the CDC H1N1 Flu web site at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.
• Keep surfaces (bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters, telephones, remote controls, and toys) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
• Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so. A supply of over-the-counter medicines (must not contain aspirin), alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues, and other related items might be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.
• Consider developing a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of extra food and other essential supplies. Click on this link for a flu planning checklist: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/individual/checklist.html.
• If you are ill, stay away from other people by staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever (your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine) is gone except to get medical care and then when seeking medical care, wear a facemask. Try to find someone to get necessities for you. Do not go to work, school, or travel while ill.
• If you have visited areas where novel flu cases have been confirmed and you develop flu-like symptoms within 7 days after your return, contact your health care provider and be tested.