H1N1 Flu: Advice for Families
2009 H1N1 (often referred to as “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009 and is spreading person to person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
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1. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
The 2009 H1N1 virus is thought to spread the same way seasonal flu spreads, from person to person when people with influenza cough or sneeze, allowing the virus to infect others. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something—such as a surface or object—that is contaminated with the flu virus and then touching their mouth or nose.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand cleaner, especially after you cough or sneeze and after all exposures to sick people.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
That's how germs are spread.
3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
4. Stay at home if you have a fever above 100ºF (37.8ºC) along with:
Do not go to work and do not send children to school if they are sick with these or any additional symptoms.
5. If ill, do not come into the hospital to visit children.
If you are sick or have any of these symptoms: a runny nose, congestion, watery eyes, or a new or unknown rash, you will not be allowed to visit.
6. Inform your doctor if you or someone in your family becomes ill with flu-like symptoms.
Especially if you have traveled to an area with a known H1N1 flu ("swine flu") outbreak or had contact with someone diagnosed with H1N1 flu.
7. Carefully follow medical instructions.
If you are a parent visiting a child in the hospital who has known or suspected H1N1 flu you will be given specific instructions about:
8. Get a flu shot every year. return to top
When someone has the flu, they feel very sick and tired. They may also feel achy, have a fever, and get dehydrated. Fever is a common symptom of the flu, can come on suddenly and last for 3 to 5 days. A person recovering from the flu should have:
In some cases, a healthcare professional will prescribe antiviral drugs to treat the flu. Antibiotics (like penicillin) won't cure it.
If someone in the household is sick, it is important to continue practicing the preventative measures listed above. The flu virus spreads when contaminated droplets exit the mouth and nose of an infected person and the virus comes into contact with others. Follow these tips to protect yourself and others:
Why is there concern about swine flu now?
• In late April 2009, an outbreak of H1N1 influenza caused by a "swine flu" strain was recognized in Mexico and started to spread rapidly with cases detected in various parts of the United States, including California, Texas, New York and Ohio, and in a few other countries.
• People who have been immunized against “the flu” will not be protected against H1N1 flu ("swine flu"). A new flu vaccine which does protect people from H1N1 flu has been developed.
Is 2009 H1N1 contagious?
• Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that 2009 H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human.
How does 2009 H1N1 spread?
• The 2009 H1N1 virus is thought to spread the same way seasonal flu spreads, from person to person when people with influenza cough or sneeze, allowing the virus to infect others. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something—such as a surface or object—that is contaminated with the flu virus and then touching their mouth or nose.
What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
• The symptoms of 2009 H1N1 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 this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Some people infected with 2009 H1N1 have become severely ill or even died.
How is 2009 H1N1 diagnosed?
• If and when patients have typical symptoms, including fever higher than 100ºF (37.8ºC) along with a new onset of a cough, or more severe respiratory symptoms, and are sick enough to require admission to the hospital, a test for H1N1 flu can be done. Most often, patients who do not need admission to the hospital do not need to be tested.
How severe is illness associated with 2009 H1N1?
• Illness in people with 2009 H1N1 has ranged from mild to severe. Most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment. Some people, however, have been hospitalized, and there have been some fatalities.
How long is an infected person infectious, spreading the virus to others?
• People infected with seasonal influenza or 2009 H1N1 shed viruses and may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before getting sick, and up to 5 to 7 days after their symptoms start. This infectious period may last longer in some people, especially children and those with weakened immune systems. People with continued fever should be considered contagious as long as they still have fever and for at least 24 hours after their fevers have resolved.
How can you protect yourself and others?
• If you are a parent visiting a child in the hospital with known or suspected 2009 H1N1, you will be given specific instructions about the use of personal protective equipment. This will include gowns, gloves and masks. Carefully follow the instructions you are given and always wash your hands after leaving the patient’s bedside.
• If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay at home, except to seek medical care, until your symptoms resolve. Staying at home means avoiding activities that bring you in contact with other people, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events and public gatherings.
• Contact your doctor early in an illness if you are feeling very ill, cannot maintain enough fluid intake or have underlying health problems.
Do not come into the hospital to visit children if you have any of the flu-like symptoms. If you are sick, you will not be allowed to visit. Designate a healthy friend or family member to visit your child. If you have severe illness or a known underlying chronic medical condition, contact your health care provider immediately. return to top
Is there a treatment for people with swine flu?
• Preliminary information suggests that some patients, diagnosed within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of their symptoms, are helped by treatment with one of these two antiviral drugs: oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®).
However, these drugs are not being prescribed routinely and should only be given to patients with proven H1N1 flu or to those who have had direct contact with someone who has proven H1N1 flu.
• The swine flu virus does not respond to other antiviral drugs, such as amantadine and rimantadine.
H1N1 Video & Podcast Public Service Announcements
Updated October 2, 2009