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Information About H1N1 (Swine) Flu

Information About H1N1 (Swine) Flu

The H1N1 (Swine) flu continues to circulate and has caused millions of Americans to become ill. Calvert County Health Department (CCHD) has a total of 64 lab confirmed cases since H1N1 (Swine) flu testing began last spring.  Health care providers can clinically diagnose a patient with the flu without testing.  Testing is only recommended for persons hospitalized or involved in an outbreak. 

CCHD has received ample shipments of H1N1 vaccine and can now vaccinate anyone who wishes to be vaccinated. Health care providers are also receiving vaccine and are providing it to their clients. Vaccination information can be found here.

Signs & Symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) Flu

The symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

How Swine Flu Is Spread

The H1N1 (Swine) Flu virus is spread the same way seasonal flu spreads. These flu viruses are spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing by people infected with flu, sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Some viruses can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like tables, desk, phones and doorknobs.

How To Prevent Getting H1N1 (Swine) Flu

These actions can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illness including influenza. Take these everyday preventive steps to avoid illness:

  • 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 contact with sick people.
  • The CDC recommends, if you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever- reducing medicine.) Also, limit your contact with others to avoid infecting them.

What To Do If You Suspect You Have H1N1 (Swine) Flu

Treatment for H1N1 (Swine) flu is just like seasonal flu:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Eat light foods.
  • Use medications only as directed.

Target Groups Recommended to Receive the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine:

  • Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants younger than 6 months old might help protect infants by “cocooning” them from the virus;
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel because infections among healthcare workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce healthcare system capacity;
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
    • Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in children who are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and
    • Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because many cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and,
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza

People 65 Years and Older and 2009 H1N1 Flu

According to CDC people 65 Years and Older and 2009 H1N1 Flu The new 2009 H1N1 virus does not seem to be affecting people 65 years and older in the same way that seasonal flu usually does. Most people who have gotten sick from this new virus have been younger. In fact, people 65 and older are the group that is least likely to get infected with this new virus.
There have been relatively few infections and even fewer cases of serious illness and death with this new virus in people older than 65. Laboratory tests on blood samples indicate that older people likely have some pre-existing immunity to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. But while people 65 and older are the least likely to be infected with 2009 H1N1 flu, those that do become infected are at greater risk of having serious complications from their illness.

Action Steps for Parents to Protect Your Child and Family from the Flu this School Year

August 7, 2009 9:00 AM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 4 main ways you and your family may keep from getting sick with the flu at school and at home:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
  • Stay home if you or your child is sick for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). Keeping sick students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others.
  • Get your family vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.

If flu conditions become MORE severe, parents should consider the following steps:

  • Extend the time sick children stay home for at least 7 days, even if they feel better sooner. People who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have completely gone away.
  • If a household member is sick, keep any school-aged brothers or sisters home for 5 days from the time the household member became sick. Parents should monitor their health and the health of other school-aged children for fever and other symptoms of the flu.

Follow these steps to prepare for the flu during the 2009-2010 school year:

  • Plan for child care at home if your child gets sick or their school is dismissed.
  • Plan to monitor the health of the sick child and any other children in the household by checking for fever and other symptoms of flu.
  • Identify if you have children who are at higher risk of serious disease from the flu and talk to your healthcare provider about a plan to protect them during the flu season.  Children at high risk of serious disease from the flu include: children under 5 years of age and those children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
  • Identify a separate room in the house for the care of sick family members.
  • Update emergency contact lists.
  • Collect games, books, DVDs and other items to keep your family entertained if schools are dismissed or your child is sick and must stay home.

Talk to your school administrators about their pandemic or emergency plan

2009 – 2010 Seasonal Flu Campaign:

Influenza, commonly called the “flu” is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Every year in the United States, on average, 5 – 20 per cent of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

For more information:

Calvert County Health Department (CCHD) vaccination clinics schedule

Groups recommended to receive the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine

CCHD H1N1 (Swine) Flu information line 410-535-5400 ext. 349

CCHD Seasonal Flu information line 410-535-5400 ext. 340

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

 

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