RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The current swine flu outbreak is raising some interesting questions regarding the use of social distancing to prevent sickness, not only in public places, but even within your own home. Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hasn't issued formal guidelines on social distancing for small gatherings or house parties, infectious-disease experts suggest nixing these affairs if someone in the family is sick. "There aren't any published recommendations, but we can make some suggestions based on principals," says William Schaffner, MD, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "The general theme is to try to do things that are reasonable and practical."
THE DETAILS: Nonmedicinal forms of prevention are key right now, particularly because distribution of the swine-flu vaccine is delayed. "The H1N1 vaccine is not out there freely yet," says Dr. Schaffner. "More will come out, but it won't come out in huge truckloads. It will keep dribbling out for awhile."
WHAT IT MEANS: If you or someone in your family is sick with the swine flu, you are hardly alone. At least 2 million people (and that's a conservative estimate) have been infected with swine flu so far in the U.S. The good news is, most people recover in a week or so without taking medicine or experiencing serious complications. But the virus has been shown to pose a greater risk to people with underlying medical conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, pregnant women, young adults, and small children. So it's important to take the illness very seriously and incorporate methods to reduce swine-flu transmission in your home, too.
Published on: October 22, 2009