Swine Flu

SWINE FLU

Eric Brown, Ph.D. student

Walden University

PH 8165-1 Environmental Health

Instructor: Dr. Joanne Flowers

Fall Quarter, 2009

Hello and welcome to this very important learning session on the ever-frightening swine flu.  It would seem appropriate to talk about such as scary topic, since we are in the month of October when we celebrate Halloween.  The scariest part about the swine flu is that the majority of all cases appear in children from ages 5-24.  So, this means that everyone in this room right now has to be on your toes to help combat this virus.  Everyone, including the district administration, school faculty, and school staff are equally responsible for helping prevent the spread of H1N1 virus.  What we will learn today is exactly what the swine flu is.  We will also learn about some common myths about the virus and the truths to go along with those.  We will determine the methods of transmission, that is how it spreads, and what symptoms you should be looking for in your students and in yourself.  We will cover the people who are highest at risk for contracting this virus and then most importantly, ways to prevent the spread of the virus and what to do if someone has it.  The first thing we need to realize is that this is a new virus that started circulating this year.  It is not related to the regular seasonal flu that we deal with each year.  This flu is thought to have originated from pigs, so hence the name swine flu.  Although this is not the same flu that we deal with from year to year, the two seem to be distant relatives.  They are similar in symptoms and transmission methods.  The swine flu spreads easily from person to person much like the seasonal flu.  This flu can infect and affects any person at any age, healthy or not.  Just like the seasonal flu, vaccination is the most effective preventative against infection.  Due to how quickly this flu has spread around the world, the World Health Organization has declared that we are in a swine flu pandemic.  Some people have wondered why we are so concerned about this flu, because many people each year dies from the regular seasonal flu.  The reason for such concern is due to that this H1N1 virus is new to us.  Since it is new, our bodies have little to no immunity against infection.  This can create fatal outcomes for some of the people and students in our community and schools.  There are numerous myths floating around about the H1N1 virus.  The first one is about the new vaccination that was created.  Many people believe that since the vaccination is new, that it has not been tested enough to know if it could cause people harm or even protect against the virus.  Truth be told, this vaccination has been tested through clinical trials, which has shown positive results without any complications.  Furthermore, this vaccination has the seal of approval from the FDA, which is the governing body that protects you and me from anything that could potentially harm us from this vaccination.  Another myth is that this new vaccination cost too much.  Fact is that this vaccine has been provided to the state free of charge from the government.  There are numerous clinics offering this vaccination for free.  Other clinics are offering this vaccination at a minimal charge close to that of the seasonal flu shot.  Other myths include the idea that you can get infected with the swine flu from consuming pork, and you can also get it from drinking tap water.  These are both inaccurate.  Pork, when handled safely and prepared properly, poses no risk of infecting anyone with the H1N1 virus.  Also, chlorinated tap water is also free of this virus posing no harm to anyone that consumes it.  As mentioned earlier, this H1N1 virus spread much like the seasonal flu that we deal with from year to year.  It is easily spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and contaminated surfaces.  Anyone that has the virus on their hands can easily spread it by touching other objects before they wash their hands.  Anybody that comes in contact with a contaminated object only has to touch the object and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose and they will infect themselves.  So it is very crucial that we monitor our students, and make sure they practice good hygiene.  The symptoms of the swine flu are much like the ones of the seasonal flu.  They include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.  Due to such similarities between the seasonal flu and the swine flu, it is near impossible to tell the difference between the two.  If any of these symptoms appear in any of your students or within you, stay home and seek medication attention.  The only way to truly diagnosis the swine flu is through testing to confirm its presence.  Unlike the typical symptoms, there are emergency signs that we must all be aware of.  These emergency signs indicate a swine flu infection and require immediate medical attention.  These symptoms include fast breathing or trouble breathing, a bluish skin color, someone that does not want to drink anything and become dehydrated, sleeping constantly and not wanting to wake up, very irritable to the point that young children do not even want to be held, a fever that is accompanied by a rash, and a fever and cough that get better but then return and are worse then before.  It cannot be stressed enough that you and your students need immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms arise.  Again, this flu has caused numerous deaths, and we do not want to wait that long before taking action.  When talking about who’s at risk, it is easy to say everyone, because it’s true.  No one is immune to getting infected with this H1N1 virus, including healthy people.  However, there are people that are more susceptible to getting it than others.  These people include children less than 5 years of age, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, HIV, and heart disease, and people over the age of 65.  We all have students and employees among us that fit into at least one of these groups.  We especially need to keep an eye on them to make sure that if we see any signs or symptoms of infection, that we get them to the school clinic.  The nurse will determine at that point what the best course of action is.  In most cases, it will be to recommend that they see a physician and go home to get some rest.  There truly is no full proof way to get rid of this awful virus, but there are things we can do to help prevent others and ourselves from contracting the infection.  First, we all need to get vaccinated.  The vaccination is 70-90% effective.  Although it is not 100% effective, the odds are still in your favor to get it done.  Next, we need to educate our students to cover their mouth and nose when they couch or sneeze.  Tell your students it is actually better to cough and sneeze into your elbow than it is in your hand.  This is because once we cough or sneeze into our hand; anything we touch will then become contaminated.  This brings me to my next point.  We must always remind our students to practice good hygiene by washing their hands after they have coughed or sneezed into them.  Doing so will help prevent the spread of the virus.  If they students do not have access to a sink to wash their hands, an alcohol based hand sanitizer is the way to go.  The best way for students to remember to do this is for us as administrators and teachers to model the correct behavior.  When the students see us washing our hands or sneezing into our elbows, they too will be more inclined to do so as well.  I must mention that coughing and sneezing into the elbow is only in the absence of having a tissue in hand.  If the student has a tissue in their hand, it is best to cough or sneeze into that, than it is to do so in the elbow.  As you can imagine, it is rather hard to throw your elbow away as it would be a tissue.  So like I said, it is near impossible to get rid of this flu.  So what do you do when someone gets it?  Here are a few suggestions from the CDC and the Health and Human Services Department on what to do.  It is always a good idea to have personal protective equipment on hand such as masks.  It might sound crazy, but these masks when worn correctly can prevent the virus from infecting others.  It is suggested that everyone be allowed to extend their time away from school by an extra 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped.  This is to ensure that the virus is actually gone before returning to school where you could potentially infect someone else.  The “high-risk” people we spoke about earlier should be sent home and told to stay there until further notice is given to return to campus.  When anyone is suspected of having the swine flu, they should be sent immediately to the school clinic where the nurse will do some symptom screening to determine if the student should be isolated until taken home.  Keep in mind that teachers and administrators need to follow these guidelines as well.  It is also wise for schools to find ways to increase social distances.  That means figure out ways that the students will not be so clumped up with each other.  The close proximity of the students allows for the virus to spread easier.  The administration needs to stay in close contact with the local health departments.  They will give proper information as to when, if necessary, that a school should close its doors.  This pretty much sums up the information that we should all know to better prepare ourselves for this ugly H1N1 Swine Flu virus.  To retouch on some of the main points, lets take a look at the follows.  First, we need to remember that this virus spreads easily from person to person just like the seasonal flu.  It also is transmitted the same ways as well.  This virus cannot tell a 5 year old from a 90-year-old person.  Therefore, everyone can be infected and affected by this virus.  Vaccinations are safe and the most effective tool against fighting the infection.  We all need to educate our students on proper hand washing and hygiene techniques to help reduce the spread of germs.  It is recommended that anyone that has been sick should stay home an additional 24 hours after symptoms have disappeared to ensure that the infection is gone.  We, as administrators, faculty and staff, need to all watch for the emergency sign and symptoms in our students and within our own co-workers.  School and administrators need to stay in contact with the local health department for updates on this pandemic and for information as to when it might be necessary to close school doors.  Remember, you are the lifeline to your students.  You can help save a life by knowing the signs, symptoms, prevention techniques, and actions to take when it comes to the Swine Flu.  I hope you will all take any necessary actions to help protect you and your students from this potentially fatal flu.  Does anyone have any questions about the information we have just covered?  If so please ask me now, or you can visit with me after the presentation.  For those of you who want more information about the swine flu, I have listed numerous websites that you can visit that will give you all the information you ever wanted to know about the H1N1 virus.  The CDC and World Health Organization are the two main leading authorities on this topic and so I have directed all further readings from their websites.  If you would like a list of these, please see me afterwards and I have a print out of all the web links that you can take with you.  Here are the references that I used to create the presentation.  I appreciate your attention and attendance today.  Thank you and may you and your students be well and be safe.

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One Response

  1. Response to colleague Eric Brown re novel

    I think you did a great job!

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