Turn on the news these days and you will likely hear about the dangers of swine flu. And if you are like most parents today, it's likely you are quite worried about the threat this illness poses to you and your family. But you don't have to hide away, or miss school or work, in order to stay safe from swine flu. While this virus does pose serious concerns, public health advocates recommend that most people go on with their normal activities unless there is a widespread outbreak of swine flu in your area or anyone in your family is exhibiting worrisome symptoms. That being said, there are some important precautions to take throughout the course of your day to help avoid unnecessary germs.

A Pandemic

By now you probably know that the Swine Flu (now being referred to as Influenza A virus subtype H1N1) is the name for a new type of highly contagious virus that recently began affecting people in the United States and around the world. This strain of flu is similar to one that has been seen in pigs but actually is not quite the same. This virus seems?thought it was definitely passed from person to person plus she says that is how it spreads below; pls have her double check to be passed by human contact. So this means that you don't have to stop eating pork since you won't get Swine Flu through food, but you do need to know that the virus spreads by coming in contact with an infected person's germs in schools, offices and other public places. As a result, in areas that are hard hit by this virus, you've probably heard that officials have asked people to stay home until the outbreak has passed.

Strategic Ways to Protect Your Family

While you don't need to stay at home unless this action has been required by public officials in your area, you and do need to take some strategic steps in order to protect your health every day. Here are a few simple, but also essential, things you can do.

  1. Stress to your kids the necessity of washing their hands thoroughly (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for about 20 seconds at a time) and often. Be sure they use hot water and soap to kill off germs.
  2. Encourage your children to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when water isn't available. It's a good idea to carry this with you wherever you go.
  3. Remind your children not to touch their eyes, mouth or nose, since this action can help spread germs.
  4. Make sure your family steers clear of anyone with a runny nose or cough and if possible, avoid places where large crowds (and possibly sick people) could congregate.
  5. Teach your children to cover their face with the crook of an elbow (instead of a hand) or sneeze or cough into a tissue to help prevent the spread of germs.
  6. Recognize the symptoms of Swine Flu. These commonly include a high fever that comes on suddenly, along with body aches, sore throat, cough, headache and chills. Many people with the illness are also reporting an upset stomach and/or vomiting, too.
  7. Be prepared. If your child does show any signs of illness, be ready to keep him or her home and check with your pediatrician. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say a sick person should not return to normal activities until they have been symptom free for at least 24 hours.
  8. Understand that there are medications that can help lessen the severity of the virus if your child begins taking it at an early enough stage, so check with your pediatrician for more information.

Keep a Healthy Perspective

While the Swine Flu is a big concern today and has proven fatal for some patients, the experts say that the number of deaths is still actually quite small when you put it into perspective with other illnesses today. Also keep in mind that many people also die from other strains of influenza every year. Further, the good news is that so far most people, including children, who come down with Swine Flu have a mild case and fully recover without infecting others.




The American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/may09swineflu.htm.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/index.html.