The human swine flu outbreak continues to grow in the United States and internationally where more countries are confirming cases of swine flu. In response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization has raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 4.
Phase 4 alert level is characterized by confirmed person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus that is able to cause community level outbreaks. The cases of swine flu in California and Texas are attributed to the fact that the two states share common border with Mexico. New York health officials are testing about 75 students of St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens after some students from the school came from a trip to Mexico.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Since health officials are concerned about the susceptibility of children to swine flu, daycare providers must become more alert and vigilant in looking out for signs and symptoms among their ward.
Daycare center staff members should not take for granted any sign of swine flu among the client children, even among themselves.
l Swine flu symptoms are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.
l Some people claim to have diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. However, these symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions so it will not be easy to determine if what you have is swine flu. A laboratory test is needed in order to tell whether it is swine flu or some other condition.
l If a child is experiencing flu-like symptoms, the daycare center director or any designated representative must immediately inform the parents of the child in order for the child to be sent home and be given proper medical attention.
l Staff members and children must be reminded to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. After coughing or sneezing, the tissue must be thrown into the trash and the hands must be washed with soap and water to help prevent the spread of germs.
l Anybody with flu symptoms and who had recently been to a high risk-area like Mexico, CDC officials recommend that he sees a doctor immediately.
l People have to bear in mind that doctors cannot determine if what you have is swine flu until a sample had been taken and sent to a state health department for testing to determine if it is indeed swine flu.
How is swine flu spread?
Ø The swine flu virus is spread just like the regular flu. You can pick up the virus directly from an infected person, or by touching an object recently touched or handled by an infected person and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose thereby delivering their germs for your own infection. It is therefore important to make washing your hands a habit even if you are not sick as it could prevent you from getting the sickness. The CDC cautions people that swine flu virus can be spread by infected people a full day before the symptoms start manifesting and up to seven days after getting sick.
Ø The swine flu virus can become airborne if an infected person cough or sneeze without covering his mouth and nose, sending germs into the air.
Ø The swine flu virus that is now spreading can be contracted even without getting close to pigs. According to the CDC, it is likely a widely separated cycles of human-to-human infections.
There is no vaccine yet against the new swine flu virus. The CDC and the World Health Organization are taking the steps toward making such vaccine which is a lengthy process that could take months. People who had flu shots before the start of the flu season are not protected against swine flu because this season’s flu vaccine was not intended for the swine flu virus. It was targeted to prevent the human flu virus strain, not the new swine flu virus which is a whole, new problem.
Just like the normal human flu virus,you can prevent an outbreak of swine flu virus in your day care center by taking the following safety precautions:
1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if washing with soap and water is not possible.
2. Avoid coming in close contact with sick people.
3. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Also, remember these:
Ø Daycare centers can continue serving pork, bacon, ham, and other food items that come from pigs. Swine flu virus cannot be contracted from these food items.
Ø Stay informed of what is going on in the community so proper action can be taken in the daycare center immediately.
Ø Be aware of health bulletins from state and local health departments in case swine flu develops in your area.
Ø The U.S. government has declared swine flu to be a public health emergency so it is necessary that everyone must be prepared. Countries worldwide are monitoring the situation closely and some had started giving out travel advisories to their citizens who will be traveling to affected countries like Mexico, U.S., and Canada.
Ø Slowing the spread of swine flu in any community will depend on has fast they empty schools, churches, and other public gathering spots. It will depend on how people will be willing to stay away from people they normally associate with. It has been said that “social distancing” can effectively reduce the outbreak of the swine flu epidemic in any community by at least fifty percent. But it must be done early and it could require keeping people in their homes, away from school and work.
How to Treat Swine Flu
The severity of cases of swine flu varies widely. The outbreak in Mexico has been severe and has resulted in a number of deaths while early cases in the U.S. has been mild. But the situation could change as the virus itself could become either more dangerous or less dangerous.
The new swine flu virus is sensitive to the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Rlenza. The drugs are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the start of the flu symptoms. But caution must be exercised in taking the drugs as not everyone needs it. The early cases of lab-confirmed swine flu in the U.S. recovered without treatment.
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