Takebasicprecautionstolesse.cfm Take basic precautions to lessen the chances for H1N1 flu infec
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Take basic precautions to lessen the chances for H1N1 flu infection

Taking simple precautions such as hand washing can go a long way in keeping swine flu at bay, according to Margaret Harris, Ph. D., assistant professor-health for the University of Arkansas division of agriculture.

Swine flu is being blamed for more than 100 deaths in Mexico, with 40 cases confirmed in the United States as of late April 27. None have been reported in Arkansas. "The same precautions you would take during cold and flu season apply to this outbreak of swine flu," Harris said.

The first line of defense is hand washing and be sure to wash with warm water and soap for 15 to 20 seconds. Using alcohol-based wipes are a good follow up if soap and water aren't available.

Keeping hands away from the face is also an effective preventative.

"Your eyes, nose and mouth offer the flu virus and other germs direct access to your body," she said. "Be aware of this if you are tempted to rub your eyes, bite your fingernails or scratch your nose."

It's important to note: "You can't catch swine flu by eating pork or pork products," Harris said. "It can only be contracted from another person."

There are other basic health measures that can help prevent infection, including keeping the immune system in good shape through exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep and stress control.

Plus there are two key steps in helping prevent infection: "If you're sick, don't come to work and see your doctor ASAP," Harris said. "And of course, avoid close contact with people who are sick."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu. They include: Fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Parents should seek medical help immediately if they notice the following in their children:

--Fast breathing or trouble breathing;

--Bluish skin color;

--Not drinking enough fluids;

--Not waking up or not interacting;

--Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held;

--Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough;

--Fever with a rash.

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

--Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;

--Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen;

--Sudden dizziness;


--Severe or persistent vomiting;

For more information about swine flu, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. For more information about good nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, visit www.uaex.edu.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

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