We know that everyone is concerned about the H1N1 virus. We received this information and wanted to pass it along to you. Please read and tell your children and friends about this information.
For Immediate Release
August 26, 2009
Contact: Autumn James, RN BSN
Jefferson County Health Department
At-Home Care Tips for Flu Patients
While the nation prepares for the possibility of up to 50% of the population becoming infected with the flu virus, Mendy Spohn, Jefferson County Health Department Administrator, advises that most of those cases will probably fall within the mild to moderate categories and won’t require hospitalization.
According to Spohn, certain groups might be more likely to develop a severe illness from the H1N1 virus, such as pregnant women and persons with chronic medical conditions. However, she stresses, most people who contract the infection will be able to stay at home and either care for themselves or have other family members or friends assist them.
“Preparation is the key,” she stated. “People should develop a plan now and have it in place so they are not caught off-guard should they contract H1N1 or the regular seasonal flu.”
Becoming familiar with the symptoms associated with the flu is an important first step. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting with the H1N1 strain. Once flu is suspected, the plan can help guide the person and/or family through the next several days.
Your plan should include strategies to address a variety of situations such as:
· Making sure you have a thermometer to monitor fever.
· Over the counter medications that could help lessen the flu symptoms such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol are recommended. Warning: Do not take aspirin if you are under 18 years of age and do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. This warning includes aspirin-containing products like Pepto - Bismol. Check ingredient labels on over-the-counter cold and flu medications to see if they contain aspirin.
· Having an adequate supply of any medication that has been prescribed for you or family members by your health care provider.
· Stocking up on liquids including juices, ginger ale, sports drinks, chicken soup, popsicles, and pedialyte to assist you in staying hydrated.
· Making sure you have a supply of non-perishable goods on hand in case a trip to the grocery store isn’t possible.
· Arranging for the care of small children, the elderly, or family members who have chronic health conditions should the primary caregiver become ill. Also, don’t forget to arrange for care for the family pets or livestock.
· Having someone you can call or who will call you at regular intervals to check up on you if you live alone. You may also need someone who could drop off necessities and medication should you need them.
“Most people do not need antiviral drugs to fully recover from the flu. However, persons at higher risk for severe flu complications or those with severe flu illness could benefit from antiviral medication,” Spohn stated. Even though antiviral medications can sometimes help lessen influenza symptoms, a prescription is required.
Spohn also warned that influenza infections can lead to or occur with bacterial infections and some people may need to take antibiotics. More severe or prolonged illness or illness that seems to get better, but then gets worse again may be an indication that a person has a bacterial infection.
Spohn also warned that flu infections could lead to pneumonias, ear infections, or sinus infections so patients and caregivers should check with their health care provider if they have concerns. “Antibiotics won’t help with the H1N1 or seasonal flu but they assist the patient in recovering from a bacterial infection should one occur.”
People with flu who are at home shouldstay at home symptom-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medications. They should also:
· Get plenty of rest
· Take any medication that has been prescribed for you
· Drink clear fluids to keep from being dehydrated
· Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then dispose of these in the trash
· Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often and especially after using tissues and after coughing or sneezing
· Avoid close contact with others—do not go to work or school while you are sick
· Watch for emergency warning signs that mean you should contact your health care provider for additional advice
The public is urged to seek medical care right away if any of the following symptoms are present:
- difficulty breathing or chest pain
- purple or blue discoloration of the lips
- vomiting and unable to keep liquids down
- signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry are present
- seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions)
When to Keep Your Child at Home
How can we limit the spread of H1N1 virus (swine flu)?
The most important thing is to keep sick people away from healthy people. So if your child is sick, you must keep your child home. Staying home when sick stops the spread of the flu and helps the sick person get well.
Answer these questions every morning before sending your child to school or daycare:
- Does your child have a fever (100° F or 37. 7°C)? If you don't have a thermometer, feel your child's skin with your hand. If it is much warmer than usual, your child probably has a fever.
- Does your child have a sore throat, cough, runny nose, body aches, vomiting, or diarrhea?
If you answered "yes" to both questions above, your child might have the flu. Keep your child home from school until symptoms are gone for 24 hours without the use of medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, etc.
If you checked "yes" to only one of the questions above, keep your child home from school until symptoms are gone for 24 hours.
When should my child go to the doctor?
Call your health care provider if your child is ill enough that you would normally see a health care provider. Use the same judgment you would use during a normal flu season. If you would not usually see a health care provider for the symptoms your child has now, you do not need to see a health care provider.
For more information and on-going updates:
Swine flu: Facts for Families of School-age Children
What is swine flu (H1N1 flu)?
The H1N1 influenza virus, also known as "swine flu," is a virus that can spread from people who are infected to others through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch. People with swine flu are thought to be able to spread the infection to others for approximately 7 days after becoming sick. The H1N1 flu virus is not transmitted from pigs to humans or from eating pork products. However, people who are sick with the H1N1 virus can spread it to pigs and pet ferrets, so persons with flu should avoid direct contact with these animals.
What should we do if someone in my family has symptoms?
Stay home if you have flu symptoms: fever and cough or sore throat, sometimes with runny or stuffy nose, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea.
Please stay away from others until you are better for at least one day so you won't infect people around you. Make the decision to see a health care provider as you normally would during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and if you need to be evaluated.
If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required.
• Runny nose or nasal stuffiness
• Low-grade fever for less than 3 days
• Mild headache
• Body aches
• Mild stomach upset
If someone in the home is pregnant, is an infant less than 6 months old, or has a medical condition that affects the heart, lungs or immune system, contact your physician to find out if antiviral medications should be prescribed to protect them from getting the flu.
Why did some schools close last spring because of H1N1 flu?
At the onset of this national outbreak of a previously unknown influenza virus, some officials believed it prudent to close affected schools while more was learned about the characteristics of this new illness and the strategy for community measures to prevent illness. The closures were intended to decrease spread of infection in the schools and provided valuable time to gather information about this new H1N1 influenza virus strain.
Will schools be closed during the 2009-10 school year due to swine flu?
Schools will not be routinely closed by county or state public health officers on the basis of a diagnosis of a few probable or confirmed cases of H1N1 virus (swine flu) within the school district. As is our practice with seasonal influenza, schools may be closed if larger numbers of students or faculty become ill. School closure appears less necessary at this point in the outbreak given what we are observing about the spread of disease and the severity of illness currently associated with this H1N1 strain. As the illness becomes more common in the community, closing individual schools based on reports of one or two diagnosed cases is less effective as a control measure.
What are the best options for child care if my child's school is closed?
To avoid spreading illness, avoid bringing large groups of children together. If childcare centers or schools close, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises families to work together with two or three other families to provide care for a group of five or fewer children. CDC also suggests using the same caregivers each day to watch over the same group of children. Please plan now for how you will care for your children if they get sick with the flu. Share these plans with your employer.
My child's school is closed due to swine flu and my child is ill, what should I do?
If your child is ill with a fever, cough or sore throat, he or she should avoid contact with others and remain at home until his/her fever is gone for a full day without the use of fever-lowering medications.
If the child's symptoms are mild, he or she does not need to see a health care provider.
If symptoms are more severe, call your health care provider to discuss if you need to bring your child for medical evaluation. Remember to tell your healthcare provider about the school closure for an outbreak of H1N1 influenza.
My child's school has reopened but my child just became ill, what should I do?
When school re-opens, the school will be closely tracking additional cases of H1N1 flu so be sure to tell school administration about the nature of your child’s illness. As before, students and staff with fever, cough or sore throat or other new respiratory illness should not attend school until the illness is over for a full day.
How do I protect my children from infection? Teach children to:
· Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not nearby, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
· Cover nose and mouth with a tissue or the crook of their elbow when coughing or sneezing. Throw away tissues immediately after use and wash hands.
· Try not to touch eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
· Stay away from people who are sick.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your child's school for school closure updates.
Additional information and updates on swine flu are available on the following Web sites: