Take precautions against H1N1 (swine) flu | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Take precautions against H1N1 (swine) flu

It’s in the news all around the globe and it’s called swine flu or H1N1.

It sounds scary, but the good news is that the vast majority of the H1N1 (swine) flu cases in the United States have been mild – so far. A number of cases have been reported in the Lake Tahoe area and surrounding communities; however, very few are being hospitalized.

“If you think you have the flu, the first thing you should do if you start to feel sick, is stay home,” said Darcie Carpenter, Ph.D., Director of Emergency Management & Infection Control, for Barton Health.

Barton Health and health officials are encouraging businesses and schools to send anyone home who has flu symptoms, and parents are encouraged to stay home with sick children.

“There has been one death in El Dorado County from H1N1, and that was a patient with pre-existing, underlying medical conditions,” Carpenter said.

“Barton Health, for now, has emergency supplies for this type of occurrence. If the community runs out of supplies, El Dorado County Public Health, the state of California and Federal agencies also have emergency supplies to which we could tap in,” Carpenter said.

It takes at least three days from the time of testing until a confirmation of swine flu is received. Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type A influenza virus.

People who get the flu need extra fluids, rest and over-the-counter medication. If symptoms are severe or persist, see your health care provider or go to Barton Urgent Care at Stateline Medical Center.

“It is strongly urged that patients not go to the hospital’s Emergency Department unless they are experiencing severe illness. This will help prevent the spread of the virus,” she added.

The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to symptoms of seasonal flu. The key symptoms are fever, cough and sore throat. Some have experienced body aches, headache, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.

There are warning signs that should result in a person seeking emergency medical care. For children, these warning signs include:

* Fast breathing or trouble breathing

* Bluish skin color

* Not drinking enough fluids

* Not interacting or waking up

* Being irritable and not wanting to be held

* Fever with a rash

* Symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and worse cough

Severe H1N1 Flu warning symptoms for adults include:

* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

* Sudden dizziness or confusion

* Severe or persistent vomiting

Reduce your chance of getting sick by washing hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in the trash. Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with sick people.

“Many hospitals, including Barton Memorial, are activating their pandemic flu plans. As a result of intense planning over the past few years, Barton Health is better prepared than ever before, to respond to a H1N1 flu outbreak, should that occur,” Carpenter said.

Updated local information is online at http://www.edcgov.us/publichealth. The Public Health Hotline is (530) 621-6140.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have information on their Web site at http://www.flu.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm.

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