What is H1N1 (swine flu)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person to person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with H1N1 flu virus have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.
How does the H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Who is at risk?
The high-risk groups for H1N1 flu are not known at this time, but it’s possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza. People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu include people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immuno-suppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to seven days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Is there a vaccine for H1N1?
The CDC is working on a vaccine, however there is no vaccine available right now to protect against H1N1 virus. Even though there is no vaccine, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.
What should I do if I get sick?
People who are sick with influenza-like symptoms should stay away from others as much as possible (except to get medical care or for other necessities) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Students with an oral temperature greater than 100° F and body aches should call Rollins Health Services for further evaluation. On weekends and after clinic hours the urgent care centers in the area can be utilized.
For more information, visit H1N1 (Swine) Flu and You.