Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

H1N1 Flu and you

Lt. Col. Wayne E. Hachey

Preventive Medicine and Surveillance director, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense

Recently there have been a number of cases of H1N1 Flu, previously known as Swine Flu, reported in the media. The Department of Defense and all segments of the U.S. government are working along with our international partners to lessen the impact.

H1N1 Flu is influenza that occurs in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu but human infections can occur. The most recent cases of swine flu appear to have the ability to be passed from person to person and have resulted in a number of cases in the United States as well as widespread disease in certain parts of Mexico. It is likely that this flu will spread to many if not all parts of the United States.

When people catch swine flu they may have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue just like the regular flu. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. Previously, H1N1 Flus have also caused severe illness and death. As with the regular flu, people with chronic medical conditions are at risk for more severe illness.

Most people catch H1N1 Flu the same way they catch the regular flu. You can catch it by coming in contact with droplets from infected people after they sneeze or cough. This can occur by being in the path of a sneeze or cough or touching something that has those droplets on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Both Tamiflu® and Relenza® are effective against this flu. You can get these medicines from your doctor.

If you have H1N1 Flu and need treatment, treatment should start within two days after you begin to feel sick.

However, the best treatment is prevention. There are a number of ways you and your family can reduce the risk of catching H1N1 Flu:

  • Avoid people with the flu
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Wash your hands before eating or touching your face, after touching surfaces that someone might have coughed or sneezed on, after going out into the community, and after caring for someone who has the flu or touching something that someone who is sick may have touched
  • If someone in your household is sick stay home until that person no longer feels ill

If you are sick there a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of passing swine flu to others:

  • If you are sick stay home from work or school
  • Limit your contact with others
  • Cough and sneeze into disposable tissues and throw these tissues away into a plastic bag
  • Those with flu should use separate eating utensils that are washed in hot soapy water after each meal
  • Don’t share objects like remote controls or pens
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched like door knobs, remote controls, light switches and toilet handles (Note: An effective disinfectant can be made using ¼ cup of household bleach and one gallon of cold water)
  • If someone in your house is sick you should also stay at home and don’t go to work or school until they no longer feel sick

If you think you have H1N1 Flu, contact your health care provider. He or she will be able to determine if you need testing or treatment. If you experience any of the following warning signs seek emergency medical care right away:

For children:

  • Fast breathing or having difficulty to breathe
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids and not urinating as often
  • Not waking up or being able to interact with others
  • Being so irritable that they do not want to be held
  • Flu symptoms that improve but then return with a worse cough and fever
  • Fever with a rash

For adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu symptoms that improve but then return with a worse cough and fever

For more information, check your local installation hotline or go to www.dod.mil/pandemicflu or www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

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