October 2, 2009

How is H1N1 spread and how can you prevent it?

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(Photo by Mary Donaldson)

How is H1N1 spread and how can you prevent it?

Spread of the novel H1N1 is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads.

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza.

Sometimes people may become infected by touching something such as a surface or object with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

“The foundation for the prevention of influenza – both seasonal and H1N1 – is vaccination. Patients should receive both vaccines,” said William Schaffner, M.D., chair of Preventive Medicine.

Other strategies to prevent the spread of flu include:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.

• Clean your hands often with alcohol-based hand gel or soap and water.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

The CDC recommends other important actions:

• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

• Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.