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Homeland Security

Kearsarge Prepares Offensive Against H1N1

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091005-18
Release Date: 10/5/2009 4:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Emmitt Hawks, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge's (LHD 3) Medical Department Sailors have outlined procedures to educate and protect service members and their families against the H1N1 flu virus.

"The 2009/2010 flu season is upon us," said Lt. Cmdr. Terrance Pyles, senior medical officer on board Kearsarge. "This year's flu season began earlier than last year because of the need to begin protecting against seasonal influenza before a similar effort is undertaken to protect against H1N1 flu. Extra vigilance is required to ensure Kearsarge maintains the required levels of operational readiness and provide health care guidance to their families."

2009 H1N1 flu is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. Most people do not have immunity to this virus, so it spreads quickly through communities.

"Prevention is key to suppress a flu pandemic," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Donald Harrington, preventive medicine technician on board Kearsarge. "The symptoms of seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu virus in people include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of the flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions."

Personnel with the flu spread the virus through coughing or sneezing near others. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Preventative measures to help control the spread of H1N1 include: Frequently washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; avoiding hand contact with the nose, mouth and eyes; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or upper sleeve; and disposing of tissues in no-touch trash receptacles. keep frequently touched common surfaces clean. For example, telephones, and computer equipment. Try not to use other workers' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment. If their use is absolutely necessary, consider cleaning them first with a disinfectant. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to rest, diet, exercise and relaxation helps maintain physical and emotional health.

"I applaud the medical team for providing us with the necessary training to protect ourselves," said Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Ashley De Armitt. "There was a wide variety of information given to us and this knowledge was passed to our loved ones easily."

According to the Center for Disease Control, those currently at higher risk of serious flu-related complications from 2009 H1N1 include children younger than five years old, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease), adults and children who have a weak immune system, residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities and persons 65 years or older.

Kearsarge is currently completing a 10-month Dry Docked Planned maintenance period and is scheduled to get underway this fall.

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