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May 04, 2009

Swine Flu Scene

source: CDC - Swine Flu / 2009 Influenza A H1N1

Swine Flu Scene

A novel swine flu virus has emerged on the world scene. Even though the epicentre of the latest swine flu (now called 2009 Influenza A H1N1 virus) is on the other side of the globe in Mexico, the awareness level is high in Singapore.

Singapore has declared DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System) Alert Orange. You may have already seen some of the manifestations of this alert status - temperature checks, visitor contact registration, limitation of visitors to hospital, airport screening, travel health alerts, etc.

2009 Influenza A (H1N1) (swine flu) is a new strain of influenza virus that spreads from human to human. The swine flu has claimed lives in the current epidemic. Other milder cases developed symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle ache, and tiredness. (source: MOH)

Flu can be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The viruses can also be spread indirectly when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it (for example, a door knob) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Transmission can also occur when an infected person shares food with others during mealtime without a serving spoon.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that influenza A (H1N1) can be transmitted to humans from eating pork or pork products that have been thoroughly cooked. (source: MOH)

So what can an individual like you or I do when exploring the parks, gardens and outdoor places in Singapore?

The Ministry of Health has made the following recommendations:

Practise good personal hygiene and be socially responsible by:

a. Washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, especially before touching your eyes, nose or mouth;

b. Turning quickly away from anyone near you if you are about to cough or sneeze, and do not cough or sneeze at him / her;

c. Covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose tissue properly in the dust bin after use;

d. Avoiding crowded places if unwell and wear a surgical mask to cover nose and mouth;

e. Staying home from work or school when sick;

f. Using a serving spoon when sharing food at meal times.

Lead a healthy lifestyle to build up immunity:

a. Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.

b. Be active. Do 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week.

c. Learn to relax and have enough sleep and rest.

d. Do not smoke.

Keep abreast of the latest developments. The swine flu scene may develop in an unpredictable fashion. If you are passionate about visiting the outdoor parks, beaches and reservoirs of Singapore, this swine flu virus should not curtail those activities, if everyone takes sensible precautions.

See more places. Live more life.

Swine Flu updates and medical information:

1. Ministry of Health, Singapore (MOH) = http://www.moh.gov.sg/

2. Swine Flu website forum = http://www.swineflu.sg/

3. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC)= http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu

4. World Health Organization (WHO) = http://www.who.int/en/

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