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NOTE:  Some may wonder why I chose to include this information.  If we are ever required to go into quarantine or isolation due to a pandemic, it will be important to have this information.  Doctors and nurses will be in high demand and may not be able to help you, not that they won't want to, but that they will be forced to treat more seriously ill patients instead.  They also may be limited by having vast numbers of patients to be treated.  This information is connected with the chart "Supplies and Medications for Isolation or Quarantine due to Respiratory or Gastrointestinal Diseases" and the recipes for the rehydration drinks.


To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:


Eat a well balanced diet.


Drink plenty of fluids.


Get plenty of sleep.




Clean hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


Cough and sneeze into tissues or your elbow.


Dispose of used tissues promptly and then clean your hands.


Stay away from those who are sick.


Do not shake hands.


Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid infecting yourself.


Wear a surgical mask around others, if desired.


Stay at least 3 feet away from others outside your home.

To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection when a household member is sick:


Keep the sick household member home from work and/or school.


Follow the previous prevention habits in addition to the following tips.


Avoid sharing anything including pens, towels, sheets, food, and eating utensils.


Disinfect door knobs, switches, handles, telephones, toys and other surfaces commonly touched with disinfectant wipes, cleaners, or bleach solution.


Disinfecting bleach solution for hard non-porous surfaces: 3/4 cup bleach in one gallon of water. Allow 5 minute contact time. Rinse food contact surfaces such as kitchen counters and tables with potable water. Make a new solution each day.


Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.

To treat fever:

bulletLoosen or remove clothing.
bulletSponge or bathe the person in cool water.
bulletGive acetaminophen in the correct amount.
bulletGive liquids often.

To treat a sore throat:

bulletGargle with warm salt water once each hour.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup warm water.
bulletDrink hot drinks or soups.  Be cautious not to make it hot enough to burn.
bulletSlowly suck on throat lozenges or hard candy.

To treat a dry cough:

bulletDrink a mixture of honey and hot water or lemon juice.  Do not give to infants less than 1 year old.
bulletFor nighttime coughs use buckwheat honey. Use 1/2 teaspoon for children ages 2 to 5, 1 teaspoon for ages 6 to 11 and 2 teaspoons for age 12 and older.
bulletSlowly suck on cough drops or hard candy.
bulletDrink plenty of water.
bulletUse a cough suppressant only if the cough is preventing sleep.

Watch for signs of dehydration anytime there is an illness that causes high fever, vomiting or diarrhea and begin treatment immediately.  Signs of dehydration:

bulletSevere thirst
bulletDry mouth and sticky saliva
bulletDoughy skin
bulletSunken eyes
bulletDizziness or lightheadedness
bulletNo tears
bulletTiredness or weakness
bulletDark yellow urine
bulletConvulsions or seizures
bulletLittle or no urine for 8 hours
bulletRapid loss of weight

To treat dehydration, stop fluid loss and gradually replace lost fluids

bulletDo not eat any solid foods for several hours after vomiting or diarrhea begins.  Take small, very frequent sips of water or a rehydration drink during the first 24 hours.
bulletWhen vomiting or diarrhea is controlled, drink water, broth or rehydration drinks in small amounts until the stomach can handle more.  Drinking too much too soon can cause vomiting to recur.
bulletFor infants and children younger than 4 years old, begin giving small amounts of a children’s rehydration drink as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins.
bulletFeed small children slowly, preferably with a teaspoon.  Children under age two should have 1/4 to 1/2 cup each feeding.  Feed after each episode of diarrhea.  Older children should be fed 1/2 to 1 cup each feeding.
bulletIf children will not drink the rehydration drink because it is too salty, either add a small amount of sugar free flavored gelatin or reduce the salt so that the solution is no saltier than tears.
bulletRehydration drinks will help the body recover faster than plain water.  Sugar is vital for the absorption of the mineral salts but too much sugar can actually contribute to diarrhea.  Sodium and potassium are necessary for electrolyte balance in the body but too much salt can cause convulsions in extreme cases.  Baking soda (a bicarbonate) will aid in restoring the pH balance in the body.  Be sure to make homemade solutions with exactness.
bulletAdults and large children should drink at least 3 quarts of rehydration drink a day until they are well.
bulletWhen the patient is able to eat, begin with the foods listed in the linked chart.  Avoid spicy, fatty, high fiber, or very sweet foods for 3 days after vomiting and/or diarrhea end.

Benson Institute
Kaiser Permanente
Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine
Rehydration Project

American Red Cross


For some specific references for caring for an individual with the flu, refer to:

Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response - A Citizen's Guide  and

Home Care for Pandemic Flu




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Copyright © 2004 - 2013 Cheryl Driggs
Last modified: 07/15/2013