Information regarding the H1N1 Influenza
What is the H1N1 virus?
The H1N1 influenza (originally named â€˜swine fluâ€™), is a new influenza virus that is transmitted from person to person. The virus was originally referred to as ‘swine flu’ because laboratory tests showed that many of the genes in the new virus were similar to viruses that normally occur in pigs. Further tests have shown that the virus is actually a genetic recombination of genes from swine, avian and human influenza viruses.
What are the signs and symptoms of the H1N1 virus in people?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Are there humans infected with the H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with the H1N1 virus were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of H1N1 flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well.
Should I be vaccinated?
Talk to your health care providers about whether you should be vaccinated. Students, faculty, and staff who want protection from the flu can be encouraged to get vaccinated for seasonal flu. Also students, faculty, and staff who are at higher risk for flu complications from 2009 H1N1 flu, should consider getting the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. People at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes). For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm.
Should my child who is a student at college get antiviral medicine if they get sick?
Parents should make sure their child knows if he or she is at higher risk for flu complications. People at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) who become sick with flu-like illness should call their health care provider as soon as possible to determine if they need antiviral treatment. Early treatment with antiviral medicines often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Parents should encourage sick students who are at higher risk for flu complications to seek early treatment. Antiviral medicines are not given to all people during flu season because most people get better on their own, over-use can promote antiviral-resistant viruses, and administration of antiviral medicines can cause adverse reactions in some people.
What can you do to stay healthy?
Take the same precautions that you should take everyday to stay healthy, including the following:
â–º Cover up.If possible, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in the trash after you use it, and wash or sanitize your hands. (If a tissue is not available, sneeze into your elbow.)
â–º Sing your ABCâ€™s.Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze or you touch doors or handrails. Wash hands for 20 seconds, which is about the same time it takes to sing your ABCâ€™s. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
â–º Wipe it down.Computers and telephones used by more than one person should be periodically wiped down with an alcohol-based solution. Keep a stash of disposable wipes with you when you visit computer labs or other common areas on campus.
â–º Practice social distance.Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Consider some “social distancing” like avoiding handshakes. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing and shaking hands with infected people.
â–º Stay home.If you get sick or someone you know is sick and you suspect you might be infected with the swine flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever. If you need to miss class, call or email your instructors as soon as possible to discuss your options.
We strongly encourage all faculty, staff, and students to review the recommended action steps from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Colleges and Universities: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/actionstepsstudents.htm
Want to learn more? Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.