Belfast Telegraph

PHA: be careful not to spread or catch the flu

by Chris McCann

People in north Belfast have been |advised on the dangers of flu following the recent swine flu cases.

After the recent rise in the level of seasonal flu cases, including H1N1, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is advising the public to take extra measures to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the flu virus.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, assistant director of Public Health Agency said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen a rise in the number of seasonal flu cases, including pregnant women diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

“The PHA would like to advise the public of how everyone can play their part in preventing the spread of this highly infectious disease,” she said.

Dr Doherty said that receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting the virus, so if you are in an ‘at risk’ group, get the vaccine now, as it’s still not too late.

She added that the public can also take simple effective measures to protect themselves.

The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person.

If you breathe in these droplets, you may become infected, but this spread can be prevented.

Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands as soon as you can.

These measures can prevent all flu and flu-like illnesses.

“If you do get flu this year, our advice is to stay at home and don’t spread your infection to others, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies if they make you feel more comfortable,” added Dr Doherty.

If you've got flu you're likely to develop some or all of the following symptoms: a sudden fever, with a high temperature (generally above 38°C/100°F); a chill; a severe headache; muscle aches and pains; a sense of feeling weak and tired; a dry cough; a sore throat.

Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days.

If you are becoming more ill, then contact your GP for advice.

Elderly people or those in ‘at risk’ groups may develop complications that can lead to serious illness and can be life threatening.

That is why it is vital to get the seasonal flu vaccine if it is offered to you and to maintain good hand hygiene.

For advice on how to wash your hands visit www.nidirect.gov.uk.

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