Ask the Expert
What is the #1 thing I can do to prepare for a pandemic?
Use good hygiene! Wash your hands frequently and cough into a tissue, your sleeve or elbow are two ways you can help prevent the spread of germs that could cause you or others to get sick.
What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Why should I prepare for a Pandemic?
It is critical that everyone prepare now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared THIS Swine Flu Pandemic to be the worse in 41 years and will become worse in the future. There is also a clear potential that the H5N1- Bird Flu will become a pandemic. If not one of these two, it will be something different. Throughout history mankind has fallen prey to Pandemics always will.
The difference is that for the first time we can identify Pandemics as they are happening, and possibly predict future behaviors of these deadly viruses. However, we can't stop them entirely, which is why everyone needs to prepare.
How do I sanitize something if I think it has germs?
Cleaners must be over 60% alcohol-based to kill the germs that can cause a pandemic. All of the cleaners you can find at the store have at least that much alcohol in them, so any store-bought product will work or you can buy appropriate supplies to keep you safe in a pandemic here. If you use Pine Sol mixed with water, follow the directions and don't use more water than recommended. This is especially important at a work place in common areas and if desks are shared by more than one individual, or if there is a location where someone has been sick with influenza-like symptoms.
When will schools be closed?
You should consult your local school board or public health department to learn what their specific plans are. Generally, the CDC is not recommending school closures due to Swine Flu at this time. However, as we get into "flu seasons" schools will close if the mortality rate, or death rate, gets worse than it is now given at some point there might not be enough teachers or students to operate the school effectively. These types of closures would also be expected during a swine flu outbreak this Fall.
What should I do if my child's school closes and I work?
First, check with your employer and see if you can work from home while your child's school is closed.
Second, if that is not possible, see if a trusted friend, relative or neighbor can watch your child. It would be preferable that it be someone without children, because children can most easily transmit the virus between them. It is natural to have children play together, and during normal times this is fine, but during a pandemic, times are anything but normal, and if you don't want your child and your family to get sick, it is best to keep children apart as much as possible.
Third, explore taking vacation days or personal days off work. The obvious issue here is that everyone only has a limited number of days off each year, so you may not have enough days off to stay home with your child for the full length of time the school is closed.
How do I keep my children safe during a pandemic?
The best way to keep your yourself, your child and your family safe during a pandemic is to avoid contact with other people, and avoid going to places where other people have been. This is not always possible, so the more you practice good hygiene, the better you will be. If you go out in public, or if your child plays with another child, keeping the group small will reduce the risk of exposure.
Masks and gloves are an effective barrier for adults, you can see a recommended masks, gloves and respirators Children probably won't refrain from touching their mouth, nose and eyes, even though or around the masks, so these items are less effective for children so make good use of hand sanitizers with your children.
What should I do if I feel sick with influenza-like symptoms?
Take your temperature and call your doctor. Make a note of the time you first felt sick. This will be important to the doctor. Anti-viral medications must be taken within 48 hours of your first symptoms, or they will not be effective in reducing your symptoms and the duration of your illness. Go to the hospital if your syptoms worsen.
Should I get a vaccination for H1N1 when they are available?
Yes, it is recommended that everyone get vaccinated when it is made available, which will probably happen this Fall. This will give your immune system a boost so that you won't become that sick if you do get swine flu.
If I get the vaccination, will that protect me fully from Swine Flu?
Not necessarily. If the Swine Flu mutates, then the vaccine may not give people 100% protection against getting the flu. However, it may make it less severe than it would have been otherwise. It is still recommended that everyone get the vaccination once it becomes available.