Following is general information about seasonal flu. We strongly encourage you to follow the recommended precautions, and to talk to your physician about your specific needs and concerns.
What is the flu?
The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different flu viruses, leading to the following symptoms:
• Fever (usually high)
• Extreme tiredness
• Dry cough
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle aches
• Sore throat
• Sometimes diarrhea
How does the flu spread?
The seasonal flu spreads from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Touching a surface contaminated with the flu virus, and then touching your nose or mouth also contributes to the spread of an illness. People infected with the flu can be contagious from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after.
What are the preventive measures?
#1 Get a vaccination. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifies vaccinations as the first and most important step in protecting yourself against the flu.
#2 Take everyday precautions. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use your elbow. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner, and always avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
#3 Take flu antiviral drugs if ordered by your physician. Antiviral drugs can effectively treat the seasonal flu by preventing the flu viruses to reproduce in your body. These prescription medications can make your illness milder and helps prevent serious complications from the flu. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started within the first two days after symptoms appear.
Will everyone need antiviral drugs to treat H1N1 flu?
No. In fact, flu.gov anticipates most people will recover without needing medical care. Seasonal flu varies in severity from mild to severe. Contact your health care provider or seek medical care if your illness is severe, or if you are at high risk for flu complications. Remember, antiviral medications are drugs that fight viruses. Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. Flu can lead to, or occur with, bacterial infections such as pneumonia, ear infections or sinus infections.
Can household precautions stop the spread of a virus?
Yes. Designate a separate room and bathroom to be used by the sick person, and try to keep the door shut. Open the windows, if possible, for better ventilation. Hand washing is a must, with each family member using a separate towel or paper towels to dry. Clean the bathroom daily, along with using a household disinfectant to clean toys and bedside surfaces. Wash linens, dishes or eating utensils after each use, taking special care not to “hug” the laundry. Bed sheets and towels can be laundered regularly, but should be dried on high heat if possible. The use of a face mask by the sick person or by the caregiver is also helpful.
What is Samaritan doing to protect staff, volunteers, patients and visitors?
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, masks are conveniently located throughout Samaritan Hospital for your use. Please, we ask that you only come to the hospital when necessary, for treatment, testing, procedures, or to pick up a prescription. Do not visit patients when you are ill.
Health care providers will take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of an illness, in addition to receiving vaccinations so we are healthy for you when you need us most! Together, we can combat the threat of seasonal flu. Please, protect others…stay home and give yourself the time you need to fully recover from an illness.
For the most current information on the flu, please visit www.CDC.gov.