Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a phase 6 status for H1N1 (swine flu) in June, several countries in EMEA have confirmed new cases of the flu. The Phase 6 status means the virus has spread globally and the number of infected individuals has increased, but the virus has not become more deadly.
The WHO provides guidance on the precautions individuals can take, while traveling or at home, to protect themselves from being infected by the H1N1 virus:
- Avoid touching your mouth and nose
- Clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub on a regular basis (especially if touching the mouth and nose, or surfaces that are potentially contaminated)
- Avoid close contact with people who might be ill
- Reduce the time spent in crowded settings if possible
- Improve airflow in your living space by opening windows
- Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active
The symptoms of the H1N1 flu are very similar to the seasonal flu and include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and runny nose. Only a medical professional or local health authority can confirm a case of H1N1.
As a precaution, if you feel unwell, and have one or more of the symptoms above, we recommend:
- Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds
- Rest and take plenty of fluids
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and, if using tissues, make sure you dispose of them carefully. Clean your hands immediately after with soap and water or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub
- If you do not have a tissue close by when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth as much as possible with the crook of your elbow
- Inform family and friends about your illness and try to avoid contact with other people
- If possible, contact a health professional before traveling to a health facility to discuss whether a medical examination is necessary
Staying home, if possible, when you are sick, with H1N1 influenza or the seasonal flu, helps protect your colleagues and others from becoming ill.