Tuesday, September 8, 2009

H1N1 update

This information is passed on from the office of the Stokes County Health Director:

Two Forms of Flu

“Bird flu, swine flu, H1N1 flu, pandemic flu, seasonal flu?”
It seems every time you open the newspaper or turn on the television there is news about the flu. As the Director of Economic Development, I wanted to pass on this information from the Stokes County Health Director and to inform our business leaders of the two forms of flu we are facing this fall and how to prepare your organization.

Seasonal Flu:
The first form of flu is the seasonal flu that we are faced with every fall and winter. Unfortunately seasonal flu kills approximately 36,000 US citizens each year and hospitalizes over 200,000 persons. One out of five persons gets the flu each year, so this is not uncommon. The best defense against the seasonal flu is to take 3 steps:
1. Get the Seasonal flu vaccine (list of clinics at www.co.stokes.nc.us)
a. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 3 main seasonal flu viruses, and can make your illness milder if you get another seasonal flu strain.
2. Practice good health habits
a. Wash hands often
b. Use hand sanitizers
c. Cover your cough or sneeze
d. Stay away from sick people
e. Stay home when you are sick
f. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, and 7-8 hours of sleep
3. If you get the flu, take antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends.

H1N1 (Swine) Flu:
First detected in the US this past April, this flu strain has lead to the development of a H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine that is available by mid to late October. The symptoms of H1N1 (swine) flu are similar to the seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The best defense against H1N1 (swine) flu are also similar to the seasonal flu:
1. Get a seasonal flu vaccine.
2. Practice good health habits (listed above)
3. Get a H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine - available later this fall.
a. Priority groups – pregnant women, children age 6 months to 24 years, those with compromised immune systems, and those who care for children less than 6 months of age.
4. If you get the flu, take antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends.

As employers I encourage you to allow sick employees to stay home until that get well. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that sick persons with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc). Sick employees in the work place will infect others in the work place, and lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. Better to have 3 employees home sick than have them work while sick and infect 30 employees!

If you have questions regarding Seasonal Flu or H1N1 (swine) flu contact your local health department at 336-593-2400 and for a list of clinics in Stokes go to www.co.stokes.nc.us.

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