Proper hand washing and wearing face masks can prevent infection

1 People wearing face masks in public places as a precautionary measure.2 Perak executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon showing the H1N1 prevention posters.Photos: SAIFUL BAHRI

PRACTISING good personal hygiene can prevent the spread of viral diseases such as H1N1 or Influenza A.

The public have been advised to take simple steps to protect themselves and their families.

Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said proper and frequent hand washing with soap, water and sanitiser is an effective way to prevent infection.

She said it was equally important to maintain a high level of personal hygiene.

Dr Juita added that it would be good to wear a face mask when around people with symptoms of respiratory tract infection such as cold and cough.

“There is a need for people to cover their mouth when coughing.

“They also must adopt a healthy lifestyle.

“If possible, avoid visiting crowded places,” she said on minimising the chances of getting infected.

Dr Juita said influenza is a viral infection that affects mainly the nose, throat and bronchi, and occasionally, the lungs.

Perak executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon showing the H1N1 prevention posters. Photos: SAIFUL BAHRI

She said the infection usually lasts for about a week and it is characterised by the sudden onset of high fever, aching muscles, headache, severe malaise, nonproductive cough, sore throat and rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose).

The virus, she said, transmits easily from person to person via droplets and small particles produced when infected people cough or sneeze, and it tends to spread rapidly seasonally.

She said most infected people recover within a week or two without requiring medical treatment.

The signs, symptoms, mode of infection, risks and complications for the ordinary flu and H1N1 were similar, she said.

“Like any seasonal flu, H1N1 infection can lead to severe complications, pneumonia and even death in the very young, elderly and those with other serious medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cancers,” she said.

“It is good if this group of people get the seasonal influenza vaccine available in the market.

“Immunisation of these groups with the vaccine is effective to reduce morbidity and mortality,” she continued, adding that the vaccine is only available in private health clinics and hospitals.

Dr Juita said although the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the world is in the post-pandemic period in August 2010, the Health Ministry continued to monitor the disease until September 2013.

She said in 2009, there were 77 deaths, followed by 20 deaths in 2010.

“In 2011, there were 10 deaths and the number fell to three deaths in 2012.

“The following year, two deaths were reported,” she added.

Dr Juita added H1N1 was first detected in 2009 and it spread fast around the world.

She said WHO after August 2010, no longer monitored H1N1.

“But this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away.

“It becomes a seasonal influenza virus and will continue to circulate for years to come,” she added.

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