Monday, September 14, 2009

How to avoid catching #H1N1

Guidelines to reduce the risk of getting A(H1N1)

The keyword is social distancing
* keep 1 metre (3 feet)** away from anyone with flu-like symptoms
* try not to stay long in an enclosed space when someone with flu symptoms is present
** since flu is spread by large droplets, a distance of 1-metre is sufficiently safe. Studies have shown that people staying in an enclosed space together with an infected person for 4 hours or more, are at high risk of contracting the same flu. Therefore, it is probably safe if you happened to pass a flu patient on the street because of the short time and it is not really an “enclosed” space

Some simple preventive measures -
* always wash your hands with soap and water
* use rinse-free hand-rub if you have no access to soap - carry a bottle with you all the time - commercial branded 50ml bottles cost around RM4-RM5 while in-house pharmacy brands cost RM3.90 for 60ml
* people with flu symptoms should cover their mouth and nose when coughing (cough etiquette) and it is preferable for them to wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of the disease when coughing
* if you need to assist or care for a flu patient, you may wear a surgical mask - dispose of it after use and wash your hands

The biggest culprit is the spread by droplets. Surfaces of tables, door-knobs, hand-rails, elevator buttons …. are all potentially infected by the ‘flu virus when the droplets land on them. Our hands will pick up the virus and when we rub our mouth, nose or eyes, we infect ourselves. We need not meet an infected person. Therefore it is very important to disinfect your hands at all times.

If someone has no option but to stay in a room with someone coughing, please give that person a surgical mask so that he/she does not accidentally spray droplets into the air that you will be breathing in. The crux of the matter is the infected person should wear the mask, not the uninfected person. Since it is large droplets, there is no need to get the expensive N95 masks; a cheap surgical mask will filter the large droplets sufficiently

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