As a parent, do you need to be concerned? What are the issues you need to be aware of? How do you protect your kids?
- H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. We don't yet know how contagious the virus is, but it is thought to spread the same way as the flu - through coughing and sneezing, or touching something by an infected person and then touching your nose or mouth.
- The symptoms of this new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
Advice from the WHO is as follows:
- If you are sick, stay at home and limit your contact with other people. Stay at home at least 7 days (may require a longer period of time for children) after the beginning of your symptoms.
- Seek medical attention if you do get sick (phone your doctor as they may require that you stay at home with your child and they may do a home visit). There may be requirements of mask-wearing if attending your GP Practice or Pharmacy.
- Careful hygiene and hand-washing are imperative whether sick or well
- Stay away from sick people if you are not sick yourself - avoid crowds if you can
- Using Tamiflu when you are not sick is not advisable by the WHO as it means that the virus may change and become difficult to treat
- Improve air flow in your home by opening windows
- There are medical treatments for this virus if you have it, so don't be overly worried. Cases in New Zealand are improving with treatment.
If you have any questions regarding the 'Swine Flu' - contact your GP or the Helpline given by the Ministry of Health (Healthline): 0800-611-116.
Emergency signs in children that require urgent medical/hospital attention are as follows:
- Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
- Bluish or grey skin colour
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistant vomiting
- Not waking or not interacting
- Being so irritable the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough