Handwashing

May 05, 2009

he Best Defence Against the H1N1 Flu Virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) raised its global pandemic alert to level five – its second highest level – on April 29, meaning a pandemic is imminent and countries must finalize preparations to deal with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus. A phase five alert means that human-to-human spread of the virus is confirmed in at least two countries.

Every year, millions of Canadians get the flu and approximately 20,000 are hospitalized. To date, there have been 140 confirmed cases of swine flu in Canada . This includes one young patient from Alberta who has been hospitalized with severe illness. Up until now, all cases reported in Canada have been mild, and all those affected have made a full recovery at home.

“It is important that we maintain perspective: more Canadians die from influenza between pandemics than are likely to die during a pandemic,” remarks Dr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada .

All strains of influenza can be dangerous; however, good infection prevention measures can help protect you and others. Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Hands are one of the most frequent transmission routes for all types of infections, as they come in direct contact with our mouth, nose, and eyes.

Good handwashing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults. Wash hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Apply enough product to thoroughly wet hands, then rub hands together briskly until dry. Always make sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with anyone who exhibits flu symptoms, or after being in a public place where disease can spread easily.

Follow these other preventative measures to protect yourself and others from infection:

  • Cough and sneeze in your arm, not your hand.
  • Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected.
  • Stay home if you’re sick, unless directed to seek medical care.

Visit www.fightflu.ca for more information on the H1N1 flu virus.