Information and Articles

A quick update on Influenza

How does it spread?

The influenza virus spreads from person-to-person. The main form of transmission is through the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. Infected droplets are released into the air and breathed in by others. However, these droplets do not remain in the air long and generally only affect people within two metres.

It is also possible to get influenza by touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

How infectious is it?

Because this virus is new, people have no immunity to it so it will spread more quickly and widely than the seasonal flu. The pandemic situation could mean lots of people become sick at the same time and this could have a big impact on our day-to-day lives, and place considerable pressure on the health services.

Experts aren’t yet sure how long people who have the new Influenza A (H1N1) virus are infectious and able to pass the virus to others. It appears they could be infectious from a day before they experience symptoms until about seven days after they first experience them.

Children, especially younger children, may be infectious for longer periods. However early use of antiviral medicines, such as Tamiflu, can reduce this infectious period.

Be prepared

If you’ve got flu symptoms, stay at home until essentially well, that is not sneezing and coughing as this is how the virus spreads. This is usually around three to four days after symptoms start, but may be up to a week.

Stop the spread of flu germs by:

  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Regularly washing your hands and drying them thoroughly
  • Avoiding contact with sick people and reducing time spent in crowded settings.

If your condition worsens, seek medical advice by phoning Healthline 0800 611 116 or your healthcare provider (Mapua Health Centre – 540 2211).

Get medical advice if you have a serious condition including respiratory disease, heart disease, liver disease, blood disorders and neurological conditions or have a suppressed immune system (including the effects of certain medications such as steroids or known to have HIV).

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