We have heard a lot about the H1N1 flu virus (originally referred to as “swine flu”) since it first appeared in North America this past spring. After causing several deaths in Mexico, it showed up in the U.S. in April, then in Canada about a month later.
On June 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) signalled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway, and we were warned that a mutation could produce an outbreak to rival global influenzas of the past.
While severe illness and death has been reported with this virus, most people who have contracted H1N1 have recovered without requiring medical treatment. But no one really knows how severe the approaching pandemic will be, so it makes sense to have all the facts about this illness to lessen our personal risk of infection or transmission as we enter the flu season.
Influenza is thought to be spread by two main methods: direct airborne droplet infection, and through contact with contaminated surfaces (desks, doorknobs, toys, books, etc.).
Most of us are aware of the risks of catching a viral illness through direct inhalation, or by touching our mouth or nose after contacting a contaminated surface, but not everyone remembers that the eyes are another very common entry point for germs of all types, and the flu virus is no exception. Follow these guidelines to protect yourself and your family from catching H1N1 this flu season:
If you own a business, consider taking a proactive approach to the H1N1 threat by developing policies that ensure less risk of flu virus transmission to your patrons and staff. Consider implementing the following:
The massive flu outbreaks of our past can certainly cause us to become fearful of a severe pandemic. However, armed with the tools of education we can all take simple steps to reduce our own risks, as well as limiting our contribution to the spread of H1N1 infection.