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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Stopping Swine Flu Up to You

Before the Vaccine Arrives, It's Up to Citizens to Slow Swine Flu


The second part of the plan is to keep from spreading the swine flu virus:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Observe flu etiquette. Don't cough or sneeze into your hands. Cough/sneeze into a tissue -- or, failing that, your elbow.
  • If you can do so comfortably, wear a face mask if you come into contact with others.
  • If you are an employer, do not penalize workers for staying home if sick or for caring for sick children.
  • Make plans -- now -- for what you'd do if you or your children get sick this fall.

Does this stuff really work? From the standpoint of an individual, nothing may seem to be happening.

"All these efforts are leaky," acknowledged Martin Cetron, MD, director of the CDC's division of global migration and quarantine.

But if enough people do these things often enough, it will slow the speed at which flu spreads through a community. This actually slows down the pandemic -- and buys precious time for vaccination to do its work.

"By altering patterns of transmission, we reduce the peak of an epidemic wave, we buy time, and we reduce the total number of cases," Cetron said at the CDC symposium.

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