People in Lassen County and all around the world face a new health hazard this year — the H1N1 flu virus. Not only do we have to worry about catching the seasonal flu virus that always circulates each fall and winter, there’s now another flu virus that’s so new most of us may not have any immunity to it.
Nobody likes to be sick, and if we all act responsibly and with consideration, we can easily reduce the number of our family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers who will contract this new strain of the flu.
The Center for Disease Control recommends a three-step approach to preventing H1N1 infections.
The CDC recommends vaccinations for those at higher risk of catching the virus or suffering complications. This group includes pregnant women, people who live with or provide care for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency service personnel, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years and people between the ages of 25 and 64 who have underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems.
We recognize some groups and individuals oppose vaccination for a variety of reasons. We believe everyone has the right to make individual health decisions and make their own choices about vaccination.
Everyday actions can also reduce the spread of the H1N1 virus, according to the CDC. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash you hand often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Stay home when you’re sick. Purchase a supply of over-the-counter medicines, hand rubs, tissues, facemasks and other related items. Avoid going out in public while you are sick and contagious.
The CDC estimates sick people are contagious one day before getting sick to about seven days after getting sick.
While most people seem to recover from the H1N1 virus without medical care, the CDC recommends you see your doctor if your children have rapid of difficult breathing, bluish skin color, are not drinking enough fluids, are not waking up or interacting, become so irritable they do not want to be held of if the symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
Adults should seek medical care if they have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion or severe or persistent vomiting.
It’s too soon to tell how rough a ride we’re going to have this flu season, but one thing’s certain — if we all work together we can keep the spread of this illness through our community to a minimum.