The World Health Organization declared H1N1 – also called swine flu – a pandemic today. This means that there is large-scale transmission of the virus among humans in at least two of the designated WHO regions.
We’ve seen the H1N1 issue evolve over the last few months into a serious situation, but it isn’t one to panic over. Although there have been many cases in Chicago and Illinois, it seems like the worst of the cases grew out of underlying medical conditions. If you want to find more information on H1N1, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
I did some research on H1N1 to find out more about how to protect yourself and your family and how to prevent infection. Here are a few tips to help prevent infection by maintaining proper hygiene and self care:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and place used tissues directly into the trash.
- If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve.
- After coughing or sneezing, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from entering your body.
- Stay at home if you are ill.
- Talk with your family and friends and make a plan for taking care of one another should any of you become ill.
It’s important to know what you’re going to do in the event of a critical pandemic situation. The time to prepare is now, not during a situation that has reached emergency status. In addition to your disaster preparedness kit, we recommend keeping a two-week supply of materials for pandemic flu care-giving. These supplies will help you take care of yourself or your family if a case is confirmed and you or family members must remain inside while recovering. You can find this list here.
For more information on H1N1, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. For more information on how to prepare for and prevent H1N1 infection, see the Greater Chicago Red Cross Web site.
Gentry Lassiter is a Marketing & Communications intern with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.