As flu season approaches, medical professionals warn against both seasonal influenza and H1N1, also called swine flu.
“H1N1 is a new virus and people lack immunity to it,” said Dr. David Pegues, epidemiologist, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and professor of infectious diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “We encourage everyone to be extra careful this year in taking precautions to prevent the spread of flu.”
H1N1 influenza is the first pandemic since 1968, according to the World Health Organization.
“The H1N1 virus appears to be transmitted in the same way as the seasonal influenza — mostly through coughing and sneezing,” said Dr. Zachary Rubin, epidemiologist, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and assistant professor of infectious diseases. “So far, the overall severity of H1N1 regionally has been low, but this could change in the coming months and with the combination of the seasonal flu.”
The Centers for Disease Control suggests the following precautionary measures:
1) Cover nose and mouth with tissue when coughing and sneezing. Throw the tissue away immediately.
2) Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
3) Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
4) Avoid close contact with sick or getting sick people.
5) Stay home when sick and limit contact with others to keep the disease at bay. Avoid activities such as travel, shopping and social events. Postpone visiting friends and family members in the hospital until you’re feeling better to help protect patients and staff.
6) If necessary, follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
7) Be aware of developing the following symptoms: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
8) If you do contract either disease, stay home and away from others for at least 24 hours after the fever ends.
9) If pregnant, younger than 5, older than 65, have chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems, seek medical attention immediately.
10) Get an annual seasonal flu shot.