Health Feature Articles
Steps to prevent Influenza A (H1N1)
Janet Hackert, regional nutrition and health education specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension
As of May 3, 2009, there have been 226 laboratory confirmed cases
of Influenza A (H1N1) in the U.S., according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Of these, a Missouri woman from
Platte County had contracted the disease as of May 1st. The spread
of this disease — like other forms of the flu — can be prevented
or reduced by good hygiene.
Currently, there is no vaccine for Influenza A. The seasonal
influenza vaccine is a mix to prevent the strains most likely to
go around during an upcoming flu season. Since Influenza A is a
new strain, the seasonal vaccine does not prevent it.
Infection spreads person to person by someone who’s infected
coughing or sneezing on someone else. Wash your hands thoroughly
and often to prevent the spread of this and other common diseases.
Use warm water, lathering and scrubbing with soap for a full 20
seconds, rinsing and drying hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
To prevent recontamination of hands from the faucet, use a paper
towel to turn off water. Keep in mind that 20 seconds may be longer
than most of us think. Time it once: Use a helpful time-keeper like
singing the ABC’s or another short song to see just how long 20
seconds really is. Use that time-keeper to help you remember to
wash hands long enough each time. If you don’t have access to water
and soap, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an effective alternative.
There are other steps one can take to reduce the likelihood of catching the latest flu. The Extension Disaster Education Network Web site has these suggestions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food for general good health.
For more information about preventing Influenza A, log on to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services Web site at http://www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/_SwineFlu09.html. There is information in English, Spanish and Bosnian, and you can link to federal government information from this site.
You can also find information and get help from Mizzou’s own flu expert Dr. Michael Cooperstock.
Extension Disaster Education Network. Influenza.
This article has contributions from Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., associate state specialist, Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri Extension.
Last Updated 06/01/2009