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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > H1N1 Swine Flu and Our Community

H1N1 Swine Flu and Our Community

June 1, 2009

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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Read more about H1N1 Swine Flu.

The recent outbreak of the new H1N1 virus—formerly known as swine flu—thankfully turned out to be less severe than we originally feared.

However, because this is a new virus and there is still much we do not know, health officials continue to monitor the situation.

I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services and the County Health Officer. I would like to talk to you about H1N1 and how we can protect ourselves from the virus and other illnesses.

H1N1 continues to be in our community and we still are identifying cases. (See our website for the latest numbers.) Most of the cases have not been severe. One concern is that H1N1 may come back in a more dangerous form during the regular flu season in the Fall.

And regular flu itself is very serious. During a typical flu season, about 36,000 people die annually nationwide so it is important to be prepared and take precautions to help prevent the spread of viruses.

H1N1 symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and include: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Just like with the seasonal flu, basic hand and respiratory hygiene—like covering your coughs and washing your hands—can help protect you and your family from getting sick.

Follow these simple steps every day to protect yourself and others from the new H1N1 virus and other contagious diseases:

Cough and sneeze into your sleeve. If using a tissue cover your mouth and nose and throw away the tissue, then wash your hands.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Like seasonal flu, the new H1N1 virus can live for several hours on surfaces.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with other people. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth—even if you just washed your hands. You can be contagious for up to seven days after getting sick.

If you have flu symptoms, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. Only go to the emergency room if you have a medical emergency.

It is a good idea to keep a supply on-hand of over-the-counter medicines for symptom relief, hand sanitizers, tissues and other items to avoid making public trips while you are sick. Also have a plan to make sure your family is ready if someone has to be out of work or school for an extended period of time.

It is also important to keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and regular exercise.

For more information, visit our website at

Thanks for listening.

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