H1N1 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the H1N1 virus?
It is a new strain of flu that consists of genetic materials from swine, avian, and human influenza viruses.Back to top
What are the symptoms of the H1N1 virus?
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. As with seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus. Due to these similarities, only a medical professional can confirm if you have the H1N1 virus. Additionally, a significant number of people who have been infected with the H1N1 virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.Back to top
When should someone seek medical care?
Most cases of the flu can be treated at home by resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and using OTC medications with a pain reliever. (A non-aspirin pain reliever should be used by children and young adults because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.)
Medical care should be sought if you have a fever for more than three days, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. For parents with a young child who is ill, seek medical care if a child has fast or labored breathing, continuing fever or convulsions (seizures).Back to top
How does the H1N1 virus spread?
The H1N1 virus is spread in the same way seasonal viruses are spread. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
The best way to prevent the spread of the flu virus is proper hand washing. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol based hand sanitizer can be used.Back to top
How long can the H1N1 virus live on objects and surfaces?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.Back to top
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, alcohol-based wipes or gels can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.Back to top
Should I take antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu or Relenza, to prevent the flu?
Although antiviral drugs are about 70% to 90% effective in preventing susceptible viruses (i.e., viruses that are not resistant to the antiviral medication), they are recommended for people with suspected or confirmed influenza who require hospitalization.
People who are at high risk for complications, such as children younger than 5 years old, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (for example, asthma, diabetes, lung disease, people with weakened immune systems, etc.) and people younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy will receive priority in receiving antiviral treatment.Back to top
Can I get H1N1 flu from eating or preparing pork products?
No. Novel H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get infected with HIN1 flu from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.Back to top
Reference: Center of Disease Control and Prevention Website (http://cdc.gov)