Good hygiene, common sense key to preventing swine flu

Dr. James Luby, infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says there is no need to panic about the recent news reports regarding swine flu, but people should be vigilant about good hygiene and aware of how influenza is transmitted.

“Although there has been a great emphasis on this so far, it appears that the virulence in the U.S. is less severe than what we have seen in Mexico,” Dr. Luby said. “Since this is a new virus, however, we need to be watchful, and if there are any changes, we’ll need to reevaluate our response.”

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people follow the same rules they would during the typical flu season to reduce the incidence of transmission:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Dr. Luby, professor of internal medicine, also recommends that if you feel very sick — especially if you have a fever of 101 degrees or more, are experiencing upper respiratory problems, including cough, and muscle aches — go to an emergency room or to your private physician.  But please tell these health care professionals and their staff in advance the nature of your symptoms to help limit exposure.


Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

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