Flu-Proofing Your Home
Canadian pediatric hospitals are seeing a surge in flu-related admissions as H1N1 re-emerges as the dominant strain of influenza this season.
The number of children admitted to hospital for the flu so far in Canada this season is more than twice as high as it was at this time last year, according to statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
While H1N1 is tough on children it is easier on the elderly, the group more prone to serious complications and death from influenza.
The best way to flu-proof your home and protect your children and the elderly is to get the flu shot. "The seasonal flu vaccine this season is an excellent match for the current flu virus and vaccination is recommended for most individuals over the age of six months to prevent the spread of the influenza virus," says Ben Wiebe, Nurse Practitioner with Manitoba's Southern Health Region. "Although there is no specific data for seasonal influenza rates in the local Winkler area, activity in Manitoba started in October and was reported as high in December; 30% of confirmed cases are under the age of 4 years."
The general consensus among public health experts say this year's flu shot works very well against H1N1 which means the flu could wind up taking a gentler toll overall this season than in the past few seasons.
There are other ways to protect your family against the flu in addition to getting your flu shot:
Watch out for germy hot spots: remote controls, the telephone, children's toys and door knobs are popular landing spots for virus and bacteria. In fact, remote controls are generally the germiest locales in your whole house. Since a virus like influenza spreads by toughing something a sick person has also touched, cleaning off the places your hand usually goes is most important. Be sure to disinfect daily.
Beware of dish rags, mops and other cleaning tools. Unless sanitized between uses they only spread around the germs you're trying to protect against.
Have your family wash their hands regularly. There are at least six occasions each day when children should wash their hands: before meals, before playing with babies, after playing with friends, after coming home from school, after using the bathroom and of course after every cough or sneeze.
Maintain your home's HVAC system and, if you haven't done so in a long time, get your air ducts cleaned. Modern air filters can catch larger particles like pollen and mold spores but can also capture viruses travelling on a larger host. Getting your ducts clean can remove any possible viruses that may already exist and keep them from recirculating in the air.
You can never completely prevent anyone from getting sick from the flu, but if you take the steps to help prevent the spread it will make for a more comfortable flu season for everyone.