INFLUENZA FACTS June 2009

INFLUENZA FACTS June 2009


What is Novel H1N1?
Novel H1N1 is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. Many of the genes in Novel H1N1 (“swine flu”) are very similar to those found in flu that normally occurred in pigs. Flu viruses are constantly changing (mutating). Newer strains such as Novel H1N1 can be more dangerous because humans may not be immune to them. The current Novel H1N1 has a profile similar to the 1918 influenza. It can still continue to mutate, which is the reason CDC is watching it carefully. Novel H1N1’s profile also has strains of the avian (bird) flu.


Am I at risk if I have pigs on my farm?
There is no evidence Novel H1N1 spreads from pigs to humans. Signs of illness in pigs are fever, depression, coughing, discharge from nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness and going off feed. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see any of these symptoms in your pigs. Wash hands frequently when handling the animals.


Can eating pork cause Novel H1N1?
No, it is not spread by food or from pork.


Is Novel H1N1 contagious?
Yes, it is contagious and can spread from human to human.


How does it spread?
Novel H1N1 spreads as other types of flu from an infected person to another person by coughing or sneezing.

 
Can it spread by touching a surface that may have the virus on it?
Yes, it can spread by a person touching the surface with flu virus on it and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.


How long does it take to spread?
People who have the virus can infect others beginning one day before and up to seven days after symptoms begin. Children may be more contagious for longer periods of time.


What surfaces can be a problem?
Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from an infected person on a surface such as a desk or doorknob; then touches their own eyes, mouth, or nose before washing hands.


How long does the virus live outside the body?
It can live two to eight hours or longer on surfaces. Surfaces can be cleaned with disinfectant wipe or bleach. For further clean-up details, go to http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm


What are the signs and symptoms of Novel H1N1?
Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue. The symptoms are typical of other types of influenza. If someone has a chronic medical condition, their symptoms could be more severe.


What should I do if I get the flu?
It could be another type of flu, however, if you have the above symptoms, call your doctor. Your doctor will determine if you need to be tested for H1N1. If the ill person has other medical conditions or they are under 18, they should also be referred to their doctor. Stay at home until you are better. Cover your sneezes and coughs, use a tissue and toss it away. If you have no tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve to avoid spreading droplets. Wash your hands right away. Your doctor will give you further instructions if your test is positive.


Should I get a flu shot even if it might not protect me from H1N1?
Absolutely. It will continue to protect you against other influenzas.


How can I avoid getting the flu?
Wash hands and use hand sanitizers! Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. Keep a container of hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it frequently when you are unable to wash your hands.


Is there treatment for H1N1?
Yes. Tamiflu or Relenza may be used for the treatment or prevention of the H1N1. Antiviral drugs (prescription medications) can help fight the symptoms of the flu and may cause symptoms to be milder. Talk with your doctor.


Is there a vaccine for H1N1?
There is no vaccine presently available. However, CDC has begun the process of developing one. At this time, it is unclear when the vaccine may be ready.


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