NOVEL H1N1 FLU FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu)?
Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway. By August 2010, the end of the pandemic had been announced, but this virus is still circulating in our community.
Are there human infections with novel H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
Yes. Human infections with the new H1N1 virus are ongoing in the United States.
Is novel H1N1 virus contagious?
CDC has determined that novel H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human.
How does novel H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of novel H1N1 virus occurs in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people 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.
How severe is illness associated with novel H1N1 flu virus?
Illness with the new H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe. While most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have occurred.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.
It is expected that most people will recover without needing medical care.
If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed.
Antiviral drugs can be given to treat those who are at high risk and those who become severely ill with influenza. These medications must be prescribed by a health care professional.
Who is considered high risk?
• Children younger than 5 years old. The risk for severe complications from seasonal influenza is highest among children younger than 2 years old.
• Adults 65 years of age and older.
• Persons with the following conditions:
Emergency Warning Signs
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Community
• Receive the seasonal flu shot as soon as it becomes available.
• Ask about the pneumonia vaccine if you have chronic health problems, including asthma, or if you smoke.
• Stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available. Visit the CDC H1N1 Flu website.
• 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 and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible. This is to keep from making others sick.
• If you are sick and sharing a common space with others, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, to help prevent spreading the virus to others. For more information, see the Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use.
• Learn more about how to take care of someone who is ill in "Caring for Some Sick at Home".
• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other social distancing measures.
Contamination & Cleaning
How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on the surface.
What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.
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, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
What is FAU Student Health Services (SHS) doing in response to H1N1 influenza?
• Personnel are continuously monitoring influenza information from the CDC, Florida Department of Health and local public health department and planning accordingly.
• Departmental staff are collaborating with other university health centers regarding their response plans, as well as with other University departments, such as Housing, Environmental Health &Safety.
• SHS is offering the 2010 seasonal influenza vaccine to students as supplies become available.
This year's vaccine protects against three flu strains: H3N2, regular seasonal A H1N1 and regular seasonal B virus. Vaccine will be given while supplies last. Please call our appointment scheduler at 561-297-2276 to make an appointment.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov