The 411 on Swine Flu AKA A(H1N1)

The H1N1 flu virus (above) is a new strain of pandemic influenza which is different than the seasonal flu. People have no natural immunity to protect against this virus. The H1N1 flu virus emerged in April 2009 and surveillance of its spread shows that it is affecting more young and healthy people than the regular seasonal flu, which normally affects seniors and young children. People with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women may be at a greater risk for severe illness.

What is it?
The H1N1 flu virus – also known as human swine influenza – is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat and lungs. This virus usually affects pigs, but has been transferred to humans.

How is it spread?
The H1N1 flu virus is contagious and is spread the same way as regular seasonal influenza. This happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes and their germs enter the nose, eyes, or throat of another person. The germs can also rest on hard surfaces like counters and doorknobs, and can be picked up on hands and transmitted to the respiratory system when someone touches their mouth and/or nose. It is not possible to catch it by eating pork or pork products or through blood transfusions.

More research is being done on how long a person can be infectious (be able to spread the virus to others), but it is believed that this period is for one day before the onset of symptoms and continues for approximately seven days after symptoms have started. The time it takes between being infected and experiencing symptoms is between two and seven days.

Almost always:
Cough and fever

Muscle aches
Sore throat
Decreased appetite
Runny nose


Wash hands often
Keep common surfaces disinfected
Cough and sneeze into your arm, instead of your hand
If you are sick, stay home until your symptoms are gone and you feel well enough to participate in all activities
If you get flu-like symptoms and are pregnant, have underlying health problems or if your symptoms get worse, contact your health care provider.

Be Prepared
Make preparations to care for yourself and your loved ones. Make sure you have the following items on hand:

Pain and fever medication, like Tylenol or Advil, to treat fever and headaches
A thermometer
Extra supplies of any essential medication, like insulin for diabetics
Cleaning supplies, like household disinfectant,
Soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep hands clean
Non perishable food, like canned soup and fruits and vegetables and liquids, like water and juice, in case you can’t get to the grocery store,

If you get flu-like symptoms and are pregnant or have underlying health problems contact your healthcare provider.

If you get flu-like symptoms and are otherwise healthy, you should stay home to recover. If your symptoms worsen or you experience difficulty breathing or serious shortness of breath, it is important to seek medical attention.

Antivirals are drugs used for the early treatment of influenza. If taken shortly after getting sick (within 48 hours), they can reduce influenza symptoms, shorten the length of illness and potentially reduce the serious complications of influenza. Antivirals do not prevent you from getting sick.

Antivirals are recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe illness, and for people at risk of severe disease. Your doctor will decide if treatment is right for you.

Influenza vaccines (also called flu shots) help you to prevent getting sick by introducing your body to a weakened or dead version of the virus to teach your body to build immunity to it.
This year, there will be vaccines for both types of flu – one for the regular seasonal influenza, and one for the H1N1 flu virus


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