Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2009)— As the confirmed number of H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) cases grows in the United States, public concern understandably grows. The American Lung Association wishes to ease public concern by offering proven advice on how to prevent the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu).

“The American Lung Association has been helping America respond to lung disease for more than 100 years now,” said Stephen J. Nolan American Lung Association National Board Chair. “We are closely following this rapidly developing issue and have assembled information and resources on our website located at www.lungusa.org to help the public stay informed and to learn how to best protect themselves while preventing the spread of infection.”

“Good hygiene is the best and first line of defense against any type of cold or flu,” said Norman H. Edelman, MD, American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. “This includes frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.”

The American Lung Association advises that hand washing is most effective with liquid soap. Hands should be rubbed vigorously under running water of any temperature for at least 20 seconds. Consider singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in your head to ensure hands are scrubbed long enough. Hands should be dried thoroughly before coming in contact with anything such as door knobs and even the faucet.

Carrying an alcohol based hand sanitizer is a useful alternative to hand washing when soap and water are not available. 

“Take care to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth,” advised Dr. Edelman. “This is one way in which germs are easily spread. Avoiding close contact with sick people is another key line of defense.” 

It is important to be aware of flu symptoms so that precautionary measures can be taken if illness occurs.  H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) presents symptoms similar to seasonal flu such as fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, body aches and pains and has not been reported to be any more severe than the common flu. Anyone who experiences mild symptoms is advised to stay at home to best prevent the spread of illness to others. However, those with more severe symptoms are urged to contact their health care provider; particularly if symptoms appear after having contact with someone who has recently traveled to Mexico.

While there is currently no vaccine for the H1N1 strain of the influenza virus, it is still important that people receive their annual influenza vaccination. Seasonal influenza and its complications are responsible for an average of 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. That’s significantly more than the number of confirmed swine flu cases reported worldwide at the time of this writing.

While H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) is serious and preventive measures should be a top priority, it is important to keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that anti-viral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are effective against swine flu.

Additional information on influenza can be found on the American Lung Association’s website at: www.lungusa.org.

About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.  With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.

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