Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How To Protect Your Family From H1N1

Katie Boyer

While parents see their children off to school with all the proper tools they need to succeed, new items are on this years’ list of necessities. Not only are parents needing to purchase pencils, pens, and paper, they are finding items like disinfecting wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer and hand soap. With the threat of the H1N1 virus becoming greater with fall in full bloom, the community is doing their part to help make the children in Athens County safe and prepared for a possible outbreak.

Chuck Hammer, Athens County Health Department Administrator, urges parents to make sure their children are taking care of themselves by getting a seasonal flu vaccine, keeping up healthy habits, having a responsible diet and getting plenty of rest. Hammer says that the H1N1 virus has a tendency to effect young people more than it does older folks, so it is very important to keep their immune systems healthy.

Chuck Hammer, Athens County Health Dept. Administrator talks about H1N1

Doctors urge parents to teach their children proper hand washing techniques, to cover their mouths when they cough and to try not to touch their faces. Hammer stresses the importance of teaching children to cough or sneeze into a tissue, or into their sleeve. He says that doing so tends to catch any airborne droplets, which allows them to dry out and the virus will die.

The symptoms for the H1N1 virus are not that different from those of the seasonal flu. The symptoms include fever, upperrespiratory problems, cough, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and feeling achy all over. Patricia Parker, Infection Control Coordinator at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital, says that if a person’s temperature rises uncomfortably high, or if there is any change in behavior, then it is time to seek medical attention.

If a person is feeling the onset of any symptoms of the H1N1 virus, Parker encourages people to eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, wash hands often and practice good personal hygiene. Hammer noted the importance of getting a seasonal flu shot also, stressing the importance of keeping immune systems strong. He explained that the H1N1 virus has no immunity at this time, and if a person is already down with the seasonal flu, then their risk is higher because their immune system is weaker.

The vaccination for the H1N1 virus is currently in the works and according to Parker, it is going to be released on October 15th. The Center for Disease Control is providing the vaccine first to target risk groups including; pregnant women, people from six months to 18 years of age, health care workers, and people with asthma or diabetes.

Patricia Parker, Infection Control Coordinaor for O'Bleness Memorial Hospital explains how to take care of yourself when experiencing symptoms.

The CDC has provided some additional recommendations to keep the community safe and help protect people from contracting the virus. The suggestions include:

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

· Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

· Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

· Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

· Frequently clean your living quarters. If you live together with other students, you should frequently clean commonly-used surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, computer keyboards, countertops, faucet handles and bathroom areas.

· Plan to monitor your health by checking for fever and other symptoms of flu.

· Talk with your health care provider if you are at higher risk for complications from flu.

· Update emergency contact lists.

For additional information regarding the H1N1 virus and the vaccination, visit

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