St. Martin Authorities Recommend Hand-washing to Avoid Swine Flu

ST. MARTINVILLE – One of the best things we can do to prevent flu contamination is hand washing, says Lt. Col. Larry Landry, chief of Operational Services for the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office and assistant director, Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness.

HAND WASHING TIPS

•Wet hands with running water.

•Rub hands together with soap and lather well, covering all surfaces.

•Scrub hands together thoroughly – wrists, palms, between fingers, under nails & back of hands. Do this for at least 20 seconds. Singing a song to yourself such as “Happy Birthday To You” will help your timing.

•Rinse hands under a stream of clean, running water until all soap is gone.

•Blot hands dry with a clean towel.

Additional precautions include:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

Avoid close contact with sick people.

If you get sick with influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

The CDC determined that the virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu.

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person also.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.

Spread of swine flu can occur in two ways:

Through contact with infected pigs or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses.

Through contact with a person with swine flu. Human-to-human spread of swine flu has been documented also and is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

Fast breathing or trouble breathing

Bluish skin color

Not drinking enough fluids

Not waking up or not interacting

Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

Sudden dizziness

Confusion

Severe or persistent vomiting

Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: www.flula.com

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