KOIN Alert Detail

Friday, August 7, 2009

KOIN Alert - Public Health Urges Awareness, Good Hygiene Habits to Avoid H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) officials are reminding Kentuckians to practice basic precautions such as hand washing and staying home when sick to help prevent the spread of novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) as the state moves into the back to school season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told states to expect an increase in the number of cases of the H1N1 flu strain first identified in the spring, and which has since been declared a worldwide pandemic. Kentucky is also planning for a potential H1N1 vaccination campaign once vaccine becomes available.

Because the flu can spread easily among people in close contact and H1N1 has been more common in young people, health officials say it is especially important for those in school, day care or similar settings to practice good hygiene habits during the coming months. Common sense precautions to prevent illness include: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.

Letters with information about H1N1 were recently sent to all Kentucky public school superintendents, in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education. In light of the fact that H1N1 is circulating throughout the nation, CDC issued its guidance this morning for influenza in schools. The complete guidance can be found here.

Symptoms of H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough, body aches, and may include vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals at higher risk for complications—such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant—should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.

Gov. Steve Beshear recently announced that Kentucky will hold a statewide Pandemic Influenza Summit on Sept. 3 at the Frankfort Convention Center to assist private and public stakeholders in preparing for any developments related to the novel H1N1 flu strain in the months ahead. Information on registration will be available soon.

For more information on swine flu, visit: www.flu.gov. Individuals can also visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov for information on H1N1 and Kentucky, or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter to be notified when new information is posted at the Web site.


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