H1N1 flu (swine flu)
How to prevent H1N1 flu (swine flu) and prepare for a pandemic
This page explains how H1N1 flu spreads, and how to prevent H1N1 flu. It also explains how to prepare your family for a flu pandemic.
On another page, we give general information on H1N1 flu: symptoms, warning signs, and treatment.
Get your H1N1 flu shot as soon as possible - it's the best way to prevent H1N1 flu (swine flu)
The Lung Association recommends that people get their H1N1 flu shot and seasonal flu shot as soon as possible. Learn more about the H1N1 flu shot and seasonal flu shot: who should get them, where to get them, FAQs.
Avoid germs - this also helps prevent H1N1 flu
- Wash your hands properly and often. Learn how to wash you hands properly, see a picture showing all the steps of proper handwashing, and get a printable handwashing poster.
- If you aren't near a sink, use an alcohol-based cleaner to wash your hands. Use enough alcohol-based cleaner to keep your hands wet for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rub your hands together as the cleaner dries. Make sure you rub the cleaner all over your hands. Don't forget to rub between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your fingernails. Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it when you canít wash your hands in a sink.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hand. If you cough up phlegm (mucus), spit it into a tissue, throw the tissue away, and wash your hands properly right away.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Stay at home if you are sick. If you have flu symptoms, follow this treatment advice for H1N1 flu.
- Use a regular household disinfectant to wash common surfaces every day. Make sure you wash:
- counters, taps and sinks in your bathroom and kitchen
- bedside tables
- children's toys
- computer keyboards
- desks and tabletops
- Wipe surfaces with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards. Use soap and water to clean the toys and objects that young children may put in their mouths.
- Stay away from people who may be sick..
- Stay healthy: get enough sleep, eat healthy food and exercise.
- If you have a long-term lung disease like asthma or COPD, take extra steps to protect yourself.
How do people catch and spread H1N1 flu (swine flu)?
H1N1 flu is a virus that passes easily from person to person. H1N1 flu germs are in the sick personís saliva (spit) and in the mucus in their nose and throat. Flu germs come out of a sick personís eyes, nose and mouth. Flu germs get into a healthy person through the healthy person's eyes, nose or mouth.
Here are the ways that H1N1 flu (swine flu) spreads:
- When people with the flu rub their eyes, nose or mouth, and then touch something, they cover that thing with flu germs. If you touch that thing, then rub your nose, eyes or mouth, you can catch the flu.
- When people who have the flu speak, cough or sneeze, they spray tiny droplets in the air. If you breathe in these droplets, or the droplets land in your eyes, you can catch the flu.
- When people with the flu cough or sneeze on something (a tissue, a door handle), and you touch that thing, then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can catch the flu.
You can't catch H1N1 flu (swine flu) from pork thatís been properly prepared and cooked.
What can I do to prepare for the H1N1 flu (swine flu) pandemic?
The H1N1 flu is considered a flu pandemic — a new, fast-spreading flu. Many people in Canada have gotten H1N1 flu so far. This page explains more about a flu pandemic in Canada, and how it might affect people and activities.
If many Canadians get H1N1 flu, normal activities like school, work and shopping will be interrupted. Thereís no need to panic. But you should be prepared. The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests that all Canadians take small steps now that will help them cope with a flu pandemic, or any other emergency situation. Here are some things you can do:
- Follow the steps above to wash your hands properly, avoid germs, and keep your home clean.
- If you have a long-term lung disease like asthma or COPD, take special steps to control your symptoms and prepare for flu. People with asthma, COPD, or another chronic lung disease should follow this advice to prepare for H1N1 flu.
- Have an emergency plan for your family. An emergency plan outlines steps for handling sudden unexpected situations like a pandemic or natural disaster. It doesnít take long to make a plan, but it could mean a big difference in your ability to cope during an emergency. Your plan should outline key details such as a meeting place for friends and family, health information and childcare arrangements. How to make an emergency plan.
- Have an emergency kit. You should have an emergency kit with supplies to take care of you and your family for at least 72 hours without outside help. Your kit should contain food that wonít spoil, a can opener, water, medicines, matches, a flashlight, a battery-operated radio and some cash. Learn how to build an emergency kit for you and your family.
- Follow the advice of the public health authorities in your area. Pay attention to radio, TV, and Internet notices from the Public Health Agency of Canada and other health authorities in your area.
More information on H1N1 flu (swine flu)
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