How can I protect my family in case of a disease outbreak

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In emergencies, lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene can cause disease that may turn into an epidemic. Cholera can occur where there is poor sanitation and overcrowding.

An epidemic (or outbreak) of disease can cause an emergency because of the severity of the disease or responses to it. In the case of pandemic influenza and other diseases spread by close personal contact, those who are ill should be kept separated from others.

Influenza symptoms include high fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhoea. In some cases, influenza can lead to pneumonia and breathing difficulties.

Basic steps to follow include:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water or a substitute, such as ash and water
  • dispose of faeces and garbage safely
  • practise safe food preparation
  • use safe water sources or employ home-based water treatment, such as boiling, filtering, adding chlorine or disinfecting with sunlight
  • store safe water in clean, covered containers
  • stay home if sick, and stay apart from others
  • know the symptoms and danger signs, and what to do and where to go to get help if the illness becomes severe
  • keep surfaces clean
  • cough or sneeze into an elbow or a tissue, and dispose safely of tissues
  • do not spit near children or in public
  • stay at least one metre apart from others, especially if they are coughing or sneezing or look unwell
  • stay at home as much as possible and avoid public gatherings and travel.