CityNews – The Public Health Ministry of Thailand has reported that there have been 50 deaths from influenza A virus (H1N1) this year so far, and that the illness has already affected over 30,000 people across the country – a 36% increase in flu cases over last year’s statistics.
These alarming numbers have prompted the ministry to administer doses of free flu vaccines to Thai nationals in high risk groups, beginning from 1st May until 30th September. These shots will be administered nationwide, and a total of 3.4 million people considered to be most at risk will receive the preventative injection. The high risk groups have been identified as: patients suffering from chronic or congenital diseases like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer and so on; the elderly; small children between 3 months and 2 years old; and women in any stage of pregnancy.
It should also be noted that studies have found an increased risk of influenza among those who come into contact with pigs, such as veterinarians or those whose jobs involve handling pork products, like meat processors or butchers. A group at significantly higher risk are those that work in factory farms, as diseases spread rapidly among pigs housed in these small, overlapping spaces. It is believed the transmission from swine to humans occurs mainly in swine farms.
The ministry recommends people undertake additional preventative measures against the illness, such as getting enough exercise, washing hands regularly, and wearing masks in public. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends managing stress, as this is a trigger for illnesses, as well as getting plenty of sleep, exercise, drinking enough water, and eating healthy, clean food. If you believe you are sick, stay home from work to avoid infecting others, and always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Be aware that people infected with flu are most contagious during the first five days of illness, while children can remain contagious for up to ten days.
If you suffer from flu-like symptoms for more than 2 days and you have a fever, you are urged to seek medical help immediately.