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Clinical Services | Infectious Disease

H1N1 Influenza

 

Click here for 2009 H1N1 statistics for the five northern counties:

 

 

Newest

Flu

Virus

 

What is H1N1 influenza?

H1N1 arrived in spring 2009 as a new flu virus to which most people had no immunity. Originally it was called "swine flu" because testing showed many of the genes in the new virus were similar to flu viruses that normally appear in pigs in North America. Further studies showed that the new virus also had genes from flu viruses that normally infect pigs in Europe and Asia as well as genes from flu viruses that infect birds and people.

By January 2010, H1N1 had infected about 57 million Americans and contributed to about 12,000 deaths. About 25 percent of the U.S. population was vaccinated against H1N1. Exposure and the vaccine has given millions of Americans a degree of immunity to H1N1. What isn't known yet is how strong (or weak) that immunity may be.

What are the symptoms of H1N1?

 

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • cough
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills

Some people, particularly children, also have reported nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

 

What do I do if I think I have H1N1 flu?

  • If your symptoms include fever, sore throat, body aches, runny nose or vomiting or diarrhea, stay home and avoid contact with other people, except for medical care. If you're not in a high-risk group, you are likely to recover at home without medical care.
  • If your symptoms are severe or you're at high risk for flu complications, call your health care provider. It's likely you're contagious, so call first to prevent spreading the virus.
  • Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of these signs:
    • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • sudden dizziness
    • confusion
    • severe or persistent vomiting
    • flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and a worse cough
    • In children - bluish or gray skin color
    • not drinking enough fluids
    • severe or persistent vomiting
    • not waking up or interacting
    • being so irritable that the child doesn't want to be held
    • fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever or a worse cough.

 

Is H1N1 dangerous to people?

Certain people are more likely to get complications from H1N1 flu. They are:

  • pregnant women
  • children younger than 5 years old
  • people of any age with chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes and cancer, or weakened immune systems.

H1N1 targets people older than 64 the least, but complications are common for those who are infected with the virus.

Complications from H1N1 can include:

  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • sinus and ear infections

The flu can also worsen chronic health problems. For example:

  • people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu;
  • the flu may trigger congestive chronic heart failure to worsen.

Anyone concerned about health risks should call their doctor.

 

How does H1N1 spread?

 

H1N1 spreads through the air, much the same as the seasonal flu. People pass the flu to others through coughing and sneezing. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it, then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

 

If I have H1N1 infection, how long am I contagious?

The CDC believes H1N1, like seasonal flu, is contagious one day before symptoms appear and for up to seven days after symptoms start.

 

Is there a way to prevent H1N1 infection?

Get vaccinated for the best protection! A vaccine was developed in 2009 and proved safe and effective. In 2010, the H1N1 vaccine was included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

To protect yourself and others from respiratory illnesses, practice these common sense actions:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue in a waste basket with lid after.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, particularly after you sneeze or cough. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Keep a distance of 3-6 feet.
  • If you're sick, stay home for seven days after your symptoms start or until your symptoms have been gone for 24 hours, whichever is longer.

 

Are there medications to treat H1N1 infection?

Yes, antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that keep the flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs may make your illness milder and may prevent serious flu complications.

 

Here are links to important information on H1N1:

Informational materials for schools, doctors'  offices, businesses, churches, hospitals, groups:

 

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