Healthy tips to prevent swine flu
Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses which can spread to humans.
According to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), there are different subtypes and strains of swine influenza viruses. The main swine influenza viruses circulating in US pigs in recent years have been, swine triple reassortant (tr) H1N1 influenza virus, trH3N2 virus, and trH1N2 virus.
The CDC outlines three main steps for swine flu prevention:
1. Get the flu shot from your nearest health centre
The CDC says a flu vaccine is first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
The CDC says children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
2. Take preventative action
Avoid getting close to sick people or people you suspect might be sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread that way.
Wash your hands often, especially before eating, and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
If you are sick, stay at home and limit your exposure to other people to prevent spreading the flu. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
The CDC recommends that anyone sick with the flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone – the fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
3. Take flu antiviral drugs if prescribed by a doctor
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk factor or is very sick from the flu.
Follow the doctor’s instructions if taking antiviral drugs.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhoea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
Contact your local Regional Health Authority for information on how to get the flu shot:
North West Regional Health Authority
39 Dundonald Street, Port of Spain
Tel: 625-1295, 627-2874, 624-7134 or 627-2278
North Central Regional Health Authority
Building 39, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Uriah Butler Highway, Champ Fleurs
Tel: (868) 225-HOPE ext.2080
Eastern Regional Health Authority
Eastern Main Road, Sangre Grande
Tel: (868) 668-1105
South West Regional Health Authority
Independence Avenue, San Fernando
Tel: 653-4259, 653-8078, 657-4056, 657-9872, 653-9096, 652-6810, 653-8382
For more information visit the Health Ministry online at www.health.gov.tt