2009 H1N1 is a type of influenza (flu) virus that causes respiratory disease that can spread between people.
Most people infected with this virus in the United States have had mild disease. Young children, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes or heart disease may be at higher risk for complications from this infection.
What’s the difference between 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu?
There are very few differences between the two strains. Both are influenza A strains that can cause illness.
What are the signs and symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu?
The symptoms of the 2009 H1N1 flu are the same as seasonal flu and include cough, fever, chills, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and fatigue. Some people may have diarrhea and vomiting.
Severe illness (e.g., pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths sometimes result from infection with an influenza virus and have been reported with this specific strain. Like seasonal flu, 2009 H1N1 flu may worsen underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does 2009 H1N1 flu spread?
The 2009 H1N1 virus spreads like the seasonal flu.
It is mainly spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
How long can an infected person spread 2009 H1N1 flu to others?
Infected people may be able to spread the virus from one day before getting sick to five to seven days after. You may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as during your illness.
People with 2009 H1N1 infection are potentially contagious as long as they have symptoms. Children, especially younger children, may be contagious for longer periods.
Is there a vaccine for 2009 H1N1?
Yes. The seasonal flu vaccine includes the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain as well as protection against other strains predicted to circulate.
How do I protect myself from getting sick?
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to prevent the spread of germs.
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 sanitizers are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact with sick people.
Stay home when you are sick.
Get a seasonal flu shot.
It is also recommended that you maintain good general health, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Avoid touching surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
How should I take care of myself or someone in my family who is sick?
If you or someone in your home has chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, check with your health care provider about special care recommendations.
Keep sick family members home. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, cover your cough, wash your hands, and use fever-reducing medicines as directed by your health care provider or the package directions.
CDC guidelines recommend that people should stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Monitor other family members daily for flu symptoms and keep them at home if they become ill.
How do I know if I should go to the doctor or emergency room?
A majority of people with 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu recover without medication or medical treatment.
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.
If I’m sick or my child is sick, how long do we have to stay home?
CDC guidelines recommend that you should remain home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without the assistance of fever-reducing medicines, except to seek medical care.
Monitor your other family members daily for flu symptoms and keep them at home if they become ill.
How do I know if I have 2009 H1N1 flu?
2009 H1N1 is confirmed by laboratory testing done by your health care provider. Testing is only recommended if patients are severely ill or at risk for complications from the flu.
Like seasonal flu, people with underlying medical conditions are more likely to have serious flu complications.
Most people who have been infected with 2009 H1N1 flu have experienced mild illness and recover in a few days without seeking medical care.
Is there medication to treat the flu?
Antiviral medication is only recommended for people who are severely ill or at risk of serious complications from 2009 H1N1 flu.
Antiviral medication must be prescribed by a health care provider. Most people infected with this, or any other flu strain, recover on their own without medical treatment.
What if there are cases of 2009 H1N1 flu at my child’s school?
As with any flu season, it is anticipated that school children will get 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu.
School nurses will monitor students for flu symptoms and sick children will be sent home.
Parents do not need to keep healthy children home from school.
School closings due to a flu outbreak are decided by school district and state officials. School closings are not an effective public health measure to prevent the spread of flu in a community.
How long can viruses live outside the body?
Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks. Frequent hand washing will help reduce your chance of getting sick.
What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and land on surfaces (e.g. door knobs, desks, etc.). Germs are then spread when another person touches these respiratory droplets and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
What is the best technique for washing my hands?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds, or clean with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers. When using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.