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Front Page » April 30, 2009 » Carbon County News » Checklist assists in flu outbreaks
Published 2,348 days ago

Checklist assists in flu outbreaks

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Swine flu is a strain of the illness that adds to the common situation occurring annually across the United States.

Human influenza refers to one of the three major types of the illness, according to the members of the local medical community.

The categories include type A, B and C, which are endemic to the human population.

Animal flu arises from a mutation in an influenza strain that jumps from species to species.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of viruses. In the U.S., the annual flu season begins in the fall and ends the spring, explained local health care representatives.

Seasonal flu viruses spread from person to person when infected individuals cough or sneeze.

Adults may be able to infect others one day before symptoms occur and as long as five days after becoming sick.

It is important for Carbon County residents to know about the various kinds of flu that occur and the terminology used when dealing with the illness, indicated the medical community.

•Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses occurring every year.

Seasonal flu affects an average of 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population, causing mild to severe illness and leading to death in some instances.

•A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that affects large numbers of people throughout the world and spreads rapidly.

•Avian influenza is naturally occurring in birds.

Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick. However, domestic birds may become infected and die from the virus.

•An epidemic is the rapid spread of a disease that affects some or many people in a community or region at the same time.

•Immunity is defined by the presence of antibodies to a disease in a person's system.

Most people have some resistance to infections after they recover from an illness or through vaccination.

Seasonal flu viruses change and immunity cannot be acquired unless vaccination is administered.

•Quarantine is the physical separation of healthy people who have been exposed to an infectious disease from those who have not been exposed.

•Isolation is a state of separation between persons or groups to prevent the spread of disease.

•Social distancing is a practice imposed to limit face-to-face interaction in order to prevent exposure and transmission of a disease.

A flu vaccine is available in the U.S. every year, pointed out local medical representatives. People should get the shot as soon as it is available for the best chance of protection.

In addition, people should practice good health habits to maintain the body's resistance to infection. The habits include eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids, regular exercise, proper management of stress and getting enough rest and sleep.

Spreading germs during a flu season or period is one of the main contributors to the illness becoming widespread in an area, stressed health care officials.

Carbon County residents should wash hands regularly, avoid or minimize contact by maintaining at least three-foot distance from sick people and avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

In addition, people should always cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of their elbows when coughing or sneezing.

If the illness is present, individuals should avoid going to work, school or gatherings and stay home as much as possible.

The symptoms of the flu include high fever, severe body aches, headache, extreme tiredness, a sore throat, a cough, a runny or stuffy nose and vomiting or diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults.

Many illnesses have similar symptoms and it may be difficult for people to tell if they are actually suffering from the flu. Therefore, local residents may want to consult a health care provider.

Carbon County residents should also remember that there are dangerous complications associated with the flu.

The complications include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, worsening of existing chronic medical conditions, ear infections and sinus problems.

Individuals at high risk for the complications include people ages 50 or older, pregnant women, patients with chronic medical conditions, children six months or older and caregivers.

People at high risk should have vaccinations updated annually and receive pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine if age 50 or older, as directed by their physician.

When someone in the home is sick, there should be one designated caregiver.

All personal items should be kept separate and household members should avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils.

It is a good idea to disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and commonly touched surfaces in the home as well as workplace, advised health care providers. Dishes should be washed in hot water and soap.

For more information, local residents may contact their health care providers or infection control at Castleview Hospital.

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April 30, 2009
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