Beat the bugs before influenza strikes.
The dreaded flu season is well and truly upon us so if you’ve been affected by the recent school closures (#wefeelyourpain), or if you or your little one has been hit by the illness – not the best start to the new year – we thought you might want some information about what’s going on.
What Is Seasonal Influenza?
According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP), seasonal influenza (flu) is:
- A common respiratory tract infection caused by the human seasonal influenza viruses
- In Hong Kong, seasonal flu is usually more common from January to March and from July to August
Due to the highly infectious nature of this flu, many kindergartens and schools are closed or are temporarily suspended. Check out the CHP’s list of kindergarten closures here.
How Does It Spread And What To Look Out For?
Seasonal influenza symptoms are similar to other strains and are initially contracted from person to person:
- If an infected person sneezes or coughs without covering their mouth, it sends droplets of the virus into the air, infecting those nearby
- It can also spread through touch. Think doorknobs, work surfaces and holding your little one’s hand (anti-bacterial hand wash is our new best friend at this time of the year!)
Incubation period: Around one to four days.
Infectious period: People with seasonal flu may pass the virus to others from one day before, and up to seven days after, they develop symptoms.
Symptoms to look for include:
- A fever (a temperature of 38ºC/100.4ºF or above)
- A cough
- A sore throat
- A runny nose
- Muscle pain
- A headache
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
For those who do develop a cough, it’s often quite severe and lasts for a while, but fevers and other symptoms generally clear up within two to seven days.
What To Do?
The old wives tale “prevention is the best cure” is definitely true in this case. So some tips to put into action include:
- Get vaccinated (yearly)
- Boost your immune system with healthy food and drinks
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the bin immediately and then wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs
- Wash hands thoroughly, and often, with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand rub)
If you or a family member has caught the dreaded bug:
- Get plenty of rest. Try to stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever has gone and only venture out for medical care or absolute necessities
- Drink lots of fluids – water is good (Pocari Sweat is also great for dehydration)
- Stay away from work and keep kids away from school so as not to spread germs
- Influenza can be very serious for small children and frail or elderly people. If symptoms get worse it can lead to bronchitis or a chest infection, so remain vigilant of the signs and head straight to your doctor if the illness persists
- Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug, different from an antibiotic, to help reduce symptoms (these are not available over the counter)
If your little one is at home due to school closures and you’re running out of things to keep them busy, don’t worry! Take a look at our 10 Indoor Activities To Keep The Kids Entertained while they’re cooped up at home. Good luck!
Read more: Measles: What You Need To Know