Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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Focus On Awareness And Caution On A (H1N1) | Swine Flu Awareness

There is no need to panic, says Director of Public Health. The buzz is literally in the air and it is all about swine flu.
“Airline companies must be compelled to provide masks to their passengers,” says expert
With the death of a child in Pune, due to improper diagnosis, the whole country seems to have whipped itself into a tizzy over a disease few people understand.
“There is no need for panic whatsoever,” S. Elango, Director of Public Health, reassures the public. “At any point of time, ten per cent of people will have signs and symptoms of the common flu. It does not mean it is swine flu,’ he said.
He further said that even with swine flu, the disease-specific mortality is much less. And, getting into panic mode means unnecessary expense on treatments and tests.

Need for awareness
However, there is a need to be aware of what precautions to take, especially as A(H1N1) is an air-borne infection. In general, people have to adopt standard personal hygiene practices as a bare minimum, Dr.Elango says. 

This would mean frequent washing of hands with soap and water; and following the etiquette for coughing and sneezing. 

Yes, there is one – use a towel/kerchief/tissue to cover the nose and mouth as you cough or sneeze. 

Warning
He also warns people about spitting casually in open spaces that other people are likely to use. Use a spittoon or a cup that can be disposed, he advises. Similarly travellers can use a bag (like an airsickness bag).

But what do we have to watch out for? Fever, cold, cough, sneezing, respiratory distress meaning fast breathing or when the chest is indrawn.

Medical advice
If you show these signs and symptoms, according to Dr. Elango, you should seriously consider getting medical advice.
If the symptoms persist two days after treatment has been started, then test for A(H1N1).
“We would recommend the government set up. We are completely geared to handle public health emergencies, we have the testing facilities and quarantine wards, besides adequate stocks of Tamiflu, the medication that works wonders for Swine Flu,” Dr. Elango added.
The Communicable Diseases Hospital, and Peripheral Hospital in Tondiarpet and the Government General Hospital are key centres.

Protocol for safe travel
Public health experts have also drawn up a protocol for safe travel. Travelling in closed spaces entails its own risks, but those that can be handled. 

The best way to do so is to use a mask. “A triple layer mask is cheap and ideal,” says P. Kugananthan, Corporation Health Officer.

Providing masks
He advises airlines to provide masks, which are made available at train stations.
“At a time when the country is worried about containing Swine Flu, airline companies must be compelled to provide masks to their passengers,” says this infectious diseases expert.
“It is cheaper to buy a mask than treat an infection.” The transmission is most intense in closed air-conditioned spaces, such as a train coach or an airplane, whereas in open environments the infection can only spread only up to three feet, Dr. Kugananthan adds. Dr. Elango says it is important for people to drink warm water, consume vitamin-rich food in order to be healthy. 

As for schools, teachers should watch out for children with symptoms and refer them to the doctor.

The child should be given leave until he or she recovers so that the infection is not transmitted to others.

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