FAQ - General H1N1 Info
What is Influenza A H1N1?
Influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get Influenza A H1N1, but human infections can and do happen. Influenza A H1N1 viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Is Influenza A H1N1 contagious?
CDC has determined that the Influenza A H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people?
The symptoms of Influenza A H1N1 in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with Influenza A H1N1. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with Influenza A H1N1 infection in people. Like seasonal flu, Influenza A H1N1 may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does Influenza A H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of the Influenza A H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat H1N1 flu?
CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these Influenza A H1N1 viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
How long can an infected person spread H1N1 flu to others?
People with Influenza A H1N1 virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against Influenza A H1N1. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others until you feel well again.
What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand gel.
What should I do if I get sick?
You may want to contact your health care provider (by telephone), particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
H1N1 symptoms include:
- Fever above 100.4 °F
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
If you are experiencing one of or a combination of the following: a severe fever, severe diarrhea, severe vomiting - seek medical care immediatly.
Can I get H1N1 influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Influenza A H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get Influenza A H1N1 from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.