Take common sense precautions to try and ward off swine flu

Published 7:54 am Saturday, July 18, 2009

By Staff
As reported in Thursday’s Daily News, Beaufort County has its first confirmed case of swine flu. So far — and we hope the number doesn’t change — two people in eastern North Carolina have died from the flu, also called H1N1 flu.
The statewide official death toll from the illness is at four, including two recent eastern N.C. deaths — one in Carteret County and one in Wilson County.
Fortunately, Beaufort County Health Department officials seem to be on top of the situation, and they urge people to take precautions for themselves and those around them.
That’s sound advice.
Officials continue to monitor cases of the flu, which have significantly risen in the past two weeks — though only the one case has been confirmed specifically as swine flu.
Because flu season normally significantly decreases by summer, health officials are assuming that current flu cases are H1N1 and treating them accordingly, said Billie Whitfield, an infection control and prevention nurse with the Beaufort Regional Health System.
To help ward off additional cases of the illness, health department officials have posted signs at Beaufort County Medical Center urging patients admitted to the hospital to tell doctors immediately if they have flu-like symptoms. They’re also trying to keep flu sufferers separated from other patients.
Kelli Russell, health department preparedness coordinator, cautioned people to frequently wash their hands with soap and water to try and stem the disease.
She also urges people to stay home if they’re sick.
Don’t panic, though, if despite your best precautions you end up getting the swine flu.
H1N1 is treated the same as regular flu, Whitfield said: Antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu or Relenza can help, and rest and relaxation at home will speed recovery.
So keep those hands washed, and we’ll all hope for the best.