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IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING H1N1 INFLUENZA (SWINE FLU)


05/01/2009

Given that New Jersey has identified suspected H1N1 Influenza (swine flu) cases, Saint Clare’s Health System and its hospitals are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our patients, guests, and employees. We are carefully monitoring the situation and have heightened influenza surveillance at our hospitals.

If you are sick, have respiratory illness or are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, we ask you to refrain from visiting patients in our facilities to avoid the spread of your illness.

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible. You are encouraged to contact your primary care physician for evaluation and/or diagnosis.

Our Emergency Departments are closely monitoring those patients who arrive with flu-like illness, and we are treating these individuals based on state and federal recommendations for the swine flu. According to disease experts, many United States cases of swine flu are mild and do not require hospitalization. If hospitalization is necessary, each of our acute care hospitals is equipped to safely treat inpatient cases.

When to Seek Treatment

At this point, the swine flu cases in the United States have been very similar to those of seasonal flu. If you experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should contact your primary care physician. Your physician will determine whether influenza testing or additional treatment is needed.

As with any virus, the best precautions are proper hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

If your child becomes ill, you should seek emergency care if they experience any of these additional warning signs:

  • Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion Severe or persistent vomiting

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention suggest a number of common, everyday things that can be done to protect yourself and your family:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the  
    trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-
    based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Local residents who have traveled to Mexico in the past few months should also note that the swine flu has an average incubation period of 48 hours, but the incubation period can range from 1-5 days. If you have returned from Mexico and have exhibited no symptoms for at least 5 days, then you should have no cause for alarm regarding your trip. If you have any additional concerns, you should contact your primary care physician.

Saint Clare’s Health System is working closely with local, county and state agencies, along with the New Jersey Hospital Association, in flu preparation as part of our ongoing emergency preparedness activities. We are committed to working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and public health agencies to remain current with this active and ever-changing health situation.

For additional information, please click on one of the following links:

General Info on Swine Flu
Key Facts
Info on Swine Flu in New Jersey

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