Swine Flu Facts September 29 2009

Swine flu information is already making its way around and into my email box. I’m signed up with my county’s Emergency Management office, so I get updates every once in awhile regarding health concerns and updates. Usually the information is of local interest, but I think facts about the H1N1 virus are probably of interest to all of us.

Here's some helpful information I've gathered to help keep us all healthy this flu season!

What's the Risk?

The risk is a little higher for otherwise healthy people with the H1N1 virus than with the typical flu, and this is of special concern. The symptoms of the swine flu are similar to those of flu viruses typical during this time of year: fever, cough, sore throat and aches, along with diarrhea and vomiting. With H1N1, more people than usual have needed hospitalization or have died from complications related to this virus.

How Do We Get It?

You get H1N1 the same way you can catch a cold or other flu viruses; someone coughs or sneezes on you, or you touch something with the virus on it and then touch parts of your face.

What About A Vaccine?

There is a vaccine developed especially for the H1N1 virus, and availability is slated for sometime this fall. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expect there will be vaccines for those who need it, and these populations include:

  • Healthcare and Emergency Workers
  • Pregnant Women
  • Caregivers of babies under 6 months of age
  • Adults ages 25 to 64 with medical conditions
  • Individuals under age 25 (not infants)

What about teachers? Personally, I'd do it. We are susceptible to EVERYTHING...

How Do We Avoid It?

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, using your elbow. Then teach your kids to do the same.
Carry around some antibacterial gel, using it often during the day. Then teach your kids to do the same.
Wipe down desks and general areas (i.e. the pencil sharpener) with bleach wipes at the end of the day. Then teach your kids to do it as part of your "go home" routine. Ask for donations of bleach wipes from families in your classroom, explaining the reason behind the need.
If you're sick, STAY HOME! I know, easier said than done - start looking for a good substitute NOW, memorizing his or her phone number. Make some extra copies of practice worksheets and put them in a special spot just for substitute teachers. Have a special folder with sheets detailing your routines, school and classroom schedule, and helpful students. All of this will help you when you do get sick this year.

Where can I learn more?

Contact your local county health agency or your state’s public health division to learn more about specifics in your area. The number for the CDC is  toll-free: 1-800-232-4636 | TTY: 1-888-232-6348.