Monday, June 22, 2009

H1N1 in our school!

More students are being infected with the virus and more schools are being instructed to close for a week.

"KUALA LUMPUR: Kementerian Kesihatan mengarahkan Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Assunta 2 ditutup seminggu mulai hari ini setelah seorang daripada muridnya dijangkiti Influenza A (H1N1), menjadikannya sekolah kedua dikenakan tindakan serupa setakat ini.

Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican berkata, kementerian itu juga mengeluarkan arahan penutupan satu kelas bermula hari ini kepada tiga lagi sekolah iaitu Sri Cempaka International School di Cheras, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seksyen 9 Shah Alam, dan Sekolah Menengah Damansara Utama di Petaling Jaya bermula hari ini." -mStar, 22June 2009-

Today, a form 4 student from my school was fetched by the parents because the younger sibling was suspected of being infected by some kind of virus. The family was supposed to have returned from a holiday in New Zealand. It was still not confirmed as to whether the student was actually infected by H1N1.

"WELLINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The number of Influenza A/H1N1 confirmed cases in New Zealand rose to 303 on Monday, up 45 from Sunday, with 219 active cases reported in the past seven days."

Are we aware of the seriousness of the fast spread of the infection? What do we know of this disease?

This morning some students in my school received the news that a student from the school might be infected with joy! All they thought of was not having to go to school so they can go shopping?

Clearly many are still not properly informed. So, what do we really know of the virus?

What is H1N1 influenza virus?

The H1N1 influenza virus (human swine influenza or human swine flu) is a respiratory disease of humans caused by type A influenza virus. This particular strain has originated in swine, although it is now transmitted between people. Contact with swine is no longer a concern.

How does H1N1 influenza virus spread?

Spread of H1N1 influenza virus also called H1N1 flu virus from person to person occurs in the same way as seasonal flu, which is mainly spread person to person through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses or germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Germs on hard surfaces, such as counters and doorknobs, can be picked up on hands and spread to the respiratory system when people touch their mouth or nose. It is important to wash your hands frequently.

How can H1N1 flu virus be prevented?

You can reduce the risk of getting any influenza strain, including the H1N1 flu virus, by taking standard precautionary measures.

  • Wash your hands or clean them with alcohol-based hand rubs frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze and before you eat.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a clean tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash immediately after you use it.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as infection can spread that way.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you get sick, stay at home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What are the symptoms of human swine flu?

The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus or human swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of typical human seasonal influenza. Symptoms include high fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, chills, fatigue, eye pain, shortness of breath, and lack of appetite. Some people with human swine flu have also reported nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms or complications such as severe respiratory distress or pneumonia may develop in moderate or severe cases, as well as people with chronic health conditions.

What to do if you or your child has symptoms?

In most adults and children, the symptoms of H1N1 flu virus or human swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular flu. If you or your child gets sick, you can take these steps to feel better.

  • Children and adults who are sick should stay at home. Do not send children to school or daycare.
  • Drink lots of fluids (juice, water, Pedialyte).
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep your child comfortable.
  • For fever, sore throat, and muscle aches, you can use fever-reducing medicines that your doctor recommends based on your child’s age. Do not use aspirin with children or teenagers; it can cause Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness.
  • Keep clean tissues and a trash bag close, and throw the tissue in the trash immediately after you use it.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • A person who is sick should recover in his or her own room as much as possible.
  • If someone in your home is sick, keep the person away from those who are not sick.

What is home isolation?

You or your child may require home isolation if you have an infectious illness such as influenza or flu. The influenza virus is contagious for 24 hours before symptoms start and for about 7 days after symptoms start. You should stay at home or in isolation for 7 days even if your symptoms get better and your fever has gone.

Isolation means staying at home and not going to work, school, or other public places. While at home, the person who is sick should stay isolated or away from other household members and other people as much as possible.

You stay at home and away from people to prevent spreading influenza to others. It also gives you time to recover. You should recover in your own room as much as possible. Keep a 2 metre (6 feet) distance when contact with other household members is unavoidable. Everyone should wash their hands often, using soap and warm water.

How can human infections with H1N1 flu virus be diagnosed?

Identification of human swine influenza A virus requires sending a specimen from the infected person to the laboratories for testing. To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen would need to be collected generally within the first 4 to 5 days of illness, during the time when an infected person most likely sheds the virus. Some people, especially children, may shed the virus for 10 days or longer. People with mild illness do not need to have a test done and should not go to their doctor for this.

What medications are available to treat H1N1 flu virus infections?

Currently, antiviral drugs prescribed by doctors can be used for early treatment of the illness in certain people who may be at risk of more severe disease.

Is there a vaccine for H1N1 flu virus?

Experts are working internationally to develop a vaccine that will protect persons from this particular strain of influenza. However, the seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for individuals to offer protection against the seasonal strains that may be circulating, regardless of whether a novel strain has emerged.

When should I contact a doctor or health care provider?

If you need to see your doctor or health care provider, call ahead and report your symptoms so appropriate precautions can be taken.

Individuals with no flu symptoms can continue with their regular daily activities, including going to work or school, whether or not they have travelled in a country or been in contact with someone who has travelled where H1N1 flu virus or human swine flu has been reported.

(extracted from HealthLinkBC)

Further information....

Contamination & Cleaning

Photo of hands and soapHow long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Photo of cleaning suppliesWhat household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled?
Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first.
Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

It is indeed very important to be well informed so that we can take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

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