This weekend most children are returning home from school amidst reports of Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) in the country, every parent will have to be alert to ensure that their children are safe.
By now, you have probably seen the frightening pictures from Mexico and generally around the World, of people trying to avoid catching the swine flu infection.
Unfortunately swine flu has now been confirmed in a number of schools and locations within Kigali city.
It is a highly contagious infection and potentially deadly. Signs include: fever, cough sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting.
So what precautions can you easily take to prevent being infected with Swine flu?
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) the following measures are critical to keep infections away.
Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; ideally use something disposable like a tissue.
Avoid touching your face, nose or mouth too frequently with your hands, since swine flu appears to be transmitted through respiratory droplets in the same fashion as the common cold.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, since swine flu like other viruses can be contracted by touching objects contaminated by the virus.
It’s not clear how long the swine flu virus can survive on surrounding surfaces.
Though alcohol based hand sanitizers do not routinely kill viruses, they probably do offer some limited protection in preventing swine flu infections.
If swine flu infections have been medically confirmed in your area, consider avoiding large public gatherings.
Individuals can be contagious with the swine flu virus for several days, before demonstrating any signs or symptoms of infection. Be particularly careful about indoor gatherings where air circulates poorly.
If you are really paranoid and do not mind looking odd, then consider wearing a respiratory mask.
This barrier method, does offer some basic protection against infection though not all masks are created the same. Higher quality masks capable of filtering out some respiratory infections are more expensive.
If you start feeling ill with cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go to work. Stay home and begin the usual home remedies for colds and flu.
Contact your health care provider, local health department or hospital emergency room, if your symptoms worsen or fail to improve for information about where to go, to be screened for possible swine flu infection.
Taking care of an infected person at home will require strict medical advice about the special care needed.
When providing care to a household member who is sick with influenza, the most important ways to protect yourself and others who are not sick are to:
Keep the sick person away from other people as much as possible, especially those who are at high risk of complications from influenza
Remind the sick person to cover their mouth when they cough, and clean their hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and/or sneezing
Have everyone in the household clean their hands often, using soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand rub, if soap and water are not available). Children may need reminders or help keeping their hands clean