In the wake of the swine flu, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has released a list of preventive measures for patients and guidelines for doctors.
According to IMA, the mean incubation period for flu is 1.5 to 3 days and the virus shedding begins the day prior to symptom onset and often persists for five to seven days or longer in immunocompetent individuals. Even longer periods of shedding may occur in children, elderly adults, patients with chronic illnesses, and immunocompromised hosts.
“It is important to protect people from getting infections from each other. As mild flu does not require any investigations and treatment, doctors should avoid calling them in the clinics. Instead they should encourage phone consults. One can use smart phones like iphone, skype or other media for communication,” said Dr. KK Aggarwal, Secretary General, IMA.
Dr Aggarwal said that respiratory transmission occurs mainly by droplets disseminated by unprotected coughs and sneezes and prevention lies in implementing respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene.
Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette apply to all patients and accompanying family or friends who have signs of respiratory illness such as cough, congestion, nasal discharge or increased volumes of respiratory secretions.
Maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from a person who is coughing or sneezing , cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and wash hands if get spoiled with respiratory secretions. Never cough in the hands or cloth handkerchief instead use tissue paper or cough on the sides of your sleeves, warned Dr Aggarwal.
Frequent hand hygiene should be performed, including before and after every patient contact, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and after taking off personal protective equipment, including gloves. Hand hygiene can be performed by washing with soap and water or by using alcohol-based hand rubs. If hands are visibly soiled, they should be washed with soap and water.
In clinics, all doctors should provide face masks to patients with signs and /or symptoms of respiratory infection and provide them space and encourage patients with respiratory symptoms to sit as far away from others as possible.