By Ronald G. Rios
Middlesex County Freeholder
Chairperson, Committee of Public Health and Education
Since H1N1 or swine flu was first detected in April, public health departments and the US government have frequently updated the public on suspected and confirmed cases and have continuously instructed residents on how to stay healthy.
I commend their efforts and I urge residents to continue to heed the warnings.
Currently the virus is spreading from person to person within the United States and around the world. As of June 9, there were seven confirmed and nine probable cases of the virus within Middlesex County.
The Middlesex County Public Health Department is reporting current case numbers on the following website— http://co.middlesex.nj.us/publichealth/hot-topics.asp. Anyone wishing to continue tracking the number of cases and municipalities involved will be able to use the website on a 24/7 basis any time of the day or night.
What is important for parents and residents to know and do is:
- Know the symptoms of flu
- Practice personal hygiene
- Report illness to your school nurse
- Call your doctor if you have symptoms of the flu
The virus is spread the same way as seasonal flu: through coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus. The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, lack of appetite, muscle aches, chills, coughing, and fatigue (tiredness). Some people also have reported having a sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
I encourage you all to protect yourself, your family and your community through everyday actions such as:
- Washing your hands with soap and water often. (Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.)
- Covering coughs and sneezes with tissues and disposing of tissues properly, or by coughing and sneezing into your upper sleeve.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Staying home if you are sick.
- Following public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Information on the H1N1 flu can be obtained by visiting the Middlesex County Public Health Department Web site at http://co.middlesex.nj.us/publichealth. The site contains fact sheets, telephone numbers, guidance documents, resources for schools and links to other web sites such as:
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services: http://www.nj.gov/health/er/h1n1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc. gov/h1n1flu
The Middlesex County Public Health Department will continue to work with hospitals in the county, healthcare providers, local and state health departments, schools, childcare centers and other departments and agencies to ensure quick identification of influenza cases.
Through this continued communication we can provide residents with information so they may take the necessary steps to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, neighbors, friends and co-workers.