Schools as well as the flu season have officially started, so this is a great time to follow some simple health tips that will help provide protection from not only H1N1 (swine flu), but seasonal influenza as well.
"H1N1 is a new virus and people lack immunity to it. We encourage everyone to be extra careful this year in taking precautions to prevent the spread of flu," said Dr. David A. Pegues, hospital epidemiologist, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and professor of infectious diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
According to The World Health Organization, H1N1 influenza is the first pandemic since 1968. In April of 2009 the first reported cases of H1N1 were detected in the United States.
"The H1N1 virus appears to be transmitted in the same way as the seasonal influenza - mostly through coughing and sneezing," said Dr. Zachary Rubin, hospital epidemiologist, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and assistant professor of infectious diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. . "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 and UCLA experts suggest the following precautionary measures:
•1) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
•2) Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
•3) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
•4) Try to avoid close contact with sick people and isolate those with flu-like symptoms from others.
•5) If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid other normal activities like travel, shopping and social events. Postpone visiting friends or family members in the hospital until you're feeling better to help protect other patients and hospital 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 common to both H1N1 and seasonal flu: fever (usually high), 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 H1N1 or seasonal flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever ends and stay away from others as much as possible.
•9) The following high-risk persons should seek medical attention or guidance upon development of symptoms: pregnant women, children younger than five years of age, persons any age with certain chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems, persons 65 years and older (this population has less susceptibility to H1N1 but high risk to seasonal flu.)
•10) Adults and children should get an annual seasonal flu shot. Click here for more information about addressing children's fears and pain associated with receiving a shot.
The UCLA Health has for more than half a century provided the best in health care and the latest in medical technology to the people of Los Angeles and the world. Comprised of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and the UCLA Medical Group, with its wide-reaching system of primary care and specialty care offices throughout the region, the UCLA Health is among the most comprehensive and advanced health care systems in the world. For information about clinical programs or help in choosing a personal physician, call 800-UCLA-MD1 or visit www.uclahealth.org.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital