Recent news reports about H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) may have prompted questions about the illness and how to keep your family from getting sick. Children’s Hospital Central California has compiled the following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help answer some of your questions.
What is H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)?
H1N1 (swine) influenza is a contagious respiratory disease, common in pigs, caused by type A influenza viruses. H1N1 flu does not normally infect people but it can be spread to humans who have contact with infected pigs. H1N1 flu viruses have been reported to spread from person to person.
What are the Symptoms of H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)?
Symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to those of regular human flu. They include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, and deaths have been reported. Similar to seasonal flu, swine flu may worsen underlying chronic medical conditions.
How H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Spreads
It is believed H1N1 flu is being spread in the same way seasonal flu spreads, through coughing and sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
The best way to keep from getting the flu is to wash your hands. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Other suggestions include:
- 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 or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with the flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What to Do If You Get Sick?
If you are concerned that you or your child is exhibiting H1N1 flu symptoms, contact your primary health provider who may determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you or your child is sick, stay home from work or school and avoid contact with people to keep from spreading your illness to others.
Call 911 or seek emergency medical care when you experience the following:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Resources: