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Flu | Swine Flu | Avian Flu | Gastric Flu | Cold

Flu

What is it?

Flu – or influenza – is a highly contagious virus that can infect the respiratory tract (the airway).
Most flu in the UK is caused by the influenza A virus, however there are many subtypes and these are constantly evolving, therefore immunity rarely lasts for long. Flu tends to be seasonal, with infections peaking between December and March in the UK.

How does it spread?

Flu mostly spreads in the home from an ill person's saliva or mucus that escapes when they cough or sneeze. Droplets from this saliva or mucus can be breathed in and infect people standing nearby, or they may settle on surrounding surfaces to be picked up by someone else later. Ill people can leave behind infectious nasal fluids on surfaces, tissues and fabrics, either directly or by passing them on via their hands. Other people can become infected by touching contaminated surfaces and then putting their hands to their eyes, nose or mouth.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can be infected with flu, but the young, the elderly and others with reduced immunity are more likely to catch it.

What are the symptoms?

  • Sudden fever, aching limbs and fatigue, sore throat, cough and headache.
  • They may also have a runny nose, eye pain and be sensitive to light.
  • Those with reduced immunity are more at risk. This can lead to bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia, which may require hospital treatment and, on occasion, can be life-threatening.

Prevent the spread

  • Regularly disinfect the surfaces that people come into contact using Domestos Bleach Spray.
  • People should avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth when flu is around, and wash their hands beforehand if they have to do so.
  • An ill person should not share towels, face cloths etc. with others. They should particularly avoid contact with those who may be more vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly and pregnant women.
  • Cloths and sponges should be soaked overnight in a dilute solution of Domestos Extended Germ-Kill and dried thoroughly.
  • Ill people should practise good cough and sneeze hygiene, covering their mouth when they do so and washing their hands frequently.

Swine Flu

What is it?

Swine flu is an infectious disease of pigs caused by flu viruses that occur naturally in the animals. Swine flu viruses do not usually infect humans, although sometimes this does occur – usually in people who have had close contact with pigs. Occasionally, they mutate in a way that allows them to infect other animals, and sometimes people. The virus is a new strain (version) of influenza A of a type known as H1N1 – a type that regularly causes normal seasonal flu in people. There is concern that this strain could potentially cause pandemic flu.

How does it spread?

It is likely that the mode of transmission of swine flu is the same as that for seasonal flu. Flu viruses enter the body to cause infection via the mouth, nose or eyes. They can potentially transmit between people in three main ways:

  • In ‘aerosols’ – these are very fine particles sneezed out by an infected person that are small enough to stay in the air long enough to be breathed in by another person.
  • In larger droplets that are coughed or sneezed out, falling directly onto another person’s face or into the air they are breathing.
  • By indirect contact via hands and surfaces. Virus particles deposited from sneezes, hands or items touched by an infected person can be picked up on the hands of another person, and infect them when they put their hands to their face etc. Virus particles can survive on surfaces for relatively long periods of time. Flu viruses have been found to survive for over 24 hours on hard surfaces.

It is thought that seasonal flu is transmitted by all three pathways, but there is considerable disagreement as to the relative importance of each pathway for flu transmission in general. Recommendations on measures to reduce the spread of influenza from international health authorities such as the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, are based on the supposition that influenza mainly spreads from person to person by large droplets from an infected person coughing and sneezing, and by contact transmission.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can be infected with swine flu, but the young, the elderly and others with reduced immunity are more likely to catch it.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of swine flu are broadly the same as those of ordinary flu, but may be more severe and cause more serious complications. The typical symptoms are:

  • Sudden fever
  • Sudden cough

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Aching muscles
  • Limb or joint pain
  • Diarrhoea or stomach upset
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite

Prevent the spread

  • Ensure that all the surfaces in your house that risk contamination, or are sensitive areas that are often touched, are hygienically cleaned with a bleach-based product, such as Domestos Extended Germ-Kill or Domestos Bleach Spray.
  • You can pick up the virus on your hands from surfaces that other people have touched, e.g. door handles. Make sure these surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with a bleach-based product such as Domestos Bleach Spray as well. Remember that the virus can be transmitted on other hand contact sites (e.g. telephones and taps etc.).
  • When outside your own house (in an area that you do not know to be hygienically cleaned), wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough.
  • Keep away from crowded, poorly ventilated places wherever possible.
  • Treat your hands as potentially contaminated and avoid touching your nose and eyes.
  • If someone leaves a tissue lying around on surfaces, be aware that your hands will be contaminated after touching it – so clean them immediately whenever possible. Clean your hands after touching any suspect item.
  • Practise good health habits, including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food and keeping physically active.

Avian Flu

What is it?

Avian flu, commonly known as bird flu, is an infection caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally in birds. These viruses normally only infect birds, but periodically they mutate in a way that allows them to infect other animals, and sometimes humans.

The virus is known as H5N1 and has been circulating in Asia for several years. Almost all human cases of H5N1 have been contracted from direct contact with dead or visibly ill birds.

How does it spread?

  • In Asia, people who have become infected have had close contact with dead or infected birds, or material contaminated with infected droppings that have become dry and dusty, and can be inhaled.
  • If the virus mutates into a form that can pass easily from person to person, it will probably spread from the infected person through the air in coughs, sneezes and through infected mucus via their hands or tissues for example. It may also be spread in human faeces. Other people can probably become infected both by breathing in infected droplets and by touching their nose, eyes or mouth with hands that have picked up the virus from an ill person or a contaminated object. The virus may also be able to spread on food.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can be infected with avian flu, but the young, the elderly and others with reduced immunity are more likely to catch it.

What are the symptoms?

  • At first, symptoms of infection with current H5N1 strains are similar to normal seasonal flu – fever, aches and pains, sore throats and coughs. Some people also develop itchy, watering eyes. However, people can then rapidly become very ill, with pneumonia for example, or even organs failure. The incubation period for avian flu may be longer than for other strains of flu, where symptoms normally develop within 2-3 days.

Prevent the spread

  • Stay away from sick or dead birds and animals, and follow good hygiene routines after any contact with birds and animals.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth or eyes with your hands, especially when you’ve been in public places. If you have to, wash your hands first, or clean them with an alcohol hand rub.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose or touching items that may be contaminated, and before preparing food or dealing with children and others more vulnerable to infection.
  • Disinfect all surfaces in your house and items that are often touched by different people – handles, doorknobs, light switches and taps, for example – with a bleach-based product such as Domestos Bleach Spray or Domestos Extended Germ-Kill. Flu germs can survive in such places, maybe for days, and spread from there.

Gastric Flu

What is it?

Gastric flu is caused by a virus called norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug. The most common cause of gastroenteritis (gastric flu) in the England and Wales, the virus is highly contagious and spreads through either contaminated food and water, or the diarrhoea and vomit of ill people. Each year in the UK, 5 million people or more are struck down by the virus.

How does it spread?

  • Norovirus normally enters the home in or on ill people, but can occasionally be carried in contaminated fresh food.
  • If an infected person vomits, virus particles can be catapulted into the air and breathed in by another person in the vicinity.
  • Surfaces can be contaminated by droplets of vomit, by water from a flushed toilet or by hand. The virus spreads when other people, or food, touch these now-contaminated surfaces.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can be infected by norovirus and because people develop little lasting immunity to it, they can be infected again in the future. The very young and elderly need particular care if infected, as they more easily become severely dehydrated.

What are the symptoms?

Severe, but short-lived, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Prevent the spread

  • Hand hygiene is crucial to prevent the spread of norovirus. Wash your hands thoroughly using liquid soap and warm water before and after preparing food, before eating, after going to the toilet and after touching potentially contaminated items (e.g. used cleaning cloths). If you think your hands are contaminated, you should avoid putting them near your mouth.
  • Keeping your toilet hygienically clean with the Domestos Toilet Cleaning System becomes very important when someone in the house has diarrhoea. In these instances, the toilet should be hygienically cleaned after each time they use it.
  • Use a bleach based-cleaner, such as Domestos Bleach Spray or Domestos Extended Germ-Kill, to disinfect surfaces, especially if there is an outbreak of vomiting or diarrhoea in the vicinity.
  • An ill person should not share towels, face cloths etc. with others.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are used for food preparation or touched frequently using Domestos Bleach Spray.

Cold

What is it?

Over half of all colds are caused by a virus called Rhinovirus. The virus resides and spreads from the respiratory tract of infected people.

How does it spread?

In droplets ejected when an ill person coughs or sneezes, and in mucus via the hands. The virus can settle on surfaces etc. from the air or be deposited via hands on things people touch, tissues, fabrics etc. It survives for long periods of time on surfaces. Other people become infected by breathing in contaminated droplets or by touching contaminated hands and surfaces, then putting their hands to their eyes, nose or mouth.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can be infected by Rhinovirus, but the young, the elderly and others with reduced immunity are more likely to catch it.

What are the symptoms?

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Swelling of the sinuses
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache

Prevent the spread

  • Treat your hands as potentially contaminated and avoid putting them to your mouth – wash them thoroughly using soap and water after going to the toilet, touching contaminated items, preparing food and before eating.
  • Ensure frequently touched surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected with Domestos Bleach Spray.
  • Use a bleach-based cleaner, such as Domestos Bleach Spray or Domestos Extended Germ-Kill, to decontaminate surfaces, especially if there is an outbreak of vomiting or diarrhoea in the vicinity.
  • Keep your toilet hygienically clean with the Domestos Toilet Cleaning System.
  • If there are children around, make sure a high level of hygiene standards is maintained.