WOODBURY – On Monday (August 31st), a 5 year-old boy in Nashville tragically died as a result of the H1N1 flu, commonly known as "swine" flu. As we enter the fall flu season, it is important for all of us to prepare for this virus, as well as the seasonal flu virus.
Prevention is key and there are simple steps you can take to avoid getting the seasonal and H1N1 flu viruses. To avoid getting the seasonal flu, I encourage you and your family members to get vaccinated. The vaccine is inexpensive and available at many pharmacies throughout Middle Tennessee. The Cannon County Health Department also provides vaccinations and can be contacted at (615) 563-4243 or (615) 563-4202.
The vaccine for the H1N1 flu is currently being developed – scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) are working around the clock to produce the vaccine, which is expected to be available in mid-October.
In the meantime, we can all take simple precautions to protect ourselves and our families from getting the H1N1 flu virus. With children in school now, we must also teach them to regularly practice these steps.
1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
4. Avoid close contact with people who have the flu or flu-like symptoms.
5. Regularly use household disinfectants to clean children toys as well as household surfaces like kitchen and bathroom counters, and bedside tables.
If you or a family member has flu-like symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away. Symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting. There are antiviral medications that can treat both seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu, and they work best when started during the first 2 days of the illness.
While scientists are learning more about the H1N1 flu every day, I have been working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH and CDC have the resources necessary to properly help local hospitals and health clinics prepare for the upcoming flu season.
If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to visit www.flu.gov or call the toll free CDC hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO.