While there is no need to panic with the recent developments concerning the swine flu, everyone should certainly pay attention. This is a very good time to review your family's plan for emergencies and to practice basic, common sense disease prevention habits. It is still too early to predict the path this particular outbreak will take but developments are changing daily. Stay informed through reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and tune in to state and local authorities for developments closer to home. Call us at the Health Department (414-371-2980) if you have questions or concerns.
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to regular flu symptoms and include sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose. Some people may also have diarrhea and vomiting. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms and have had possible exposure through travel to Mexico or where there are known cases or contact with a confirmed case, STAY HOME and call your doctor. If you do see the doctor, it will take a lab test to confirm swine flu infection. If someone in your family is ill with flu-like symptoms, limit your exposure as much as possible and stay home yourself. People are infectious to others for a day before they have symptoms as well as throughout the course of the illness. Even if you had a flu shot this year, you are not protected against the swine flu as this is a new virus that has developed. You cannot get swine flu from eating pork.
Swine flu is spread the way regular flu is spread. Illness can occur from 1-7 days after exposure. Good health habits can help prevent infection:
Avoid close contact (defined as six feet) with people who are sick. Likewise, if you are sick, please stay home.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in the trash after use.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol based hand cleaners can also be used.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as germs are easily spread that way.
Practice other good health habits by getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
Would you be prepared if the swine flu outbreak turned into a pandemic and control measures were implemented? For example, how would you provide for your children if schools were closed? Would you be able to work from home if worksites were closed? What if public transportation was not available? Would you have adequate food? These are just some "food for thought" issues to consider.
Please be assured that the public health infrastructure in Wisconsin and the U.S. is prepared for the worst case scenario and is working very hard on your behalf. Visit the following websites for reliable, up-to-date information on swine flu.