The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus strain, once referred to as swine flu, has genes from flu viruses that circulate in pigs, birds and humans. H1N1 is an illness that is spread when respiratory droplets land on surfaces that are touched by others.
Symptoms of H1N1 can vary in severity. People who have been infected with the virus report fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches chills and fatigue. Some people also report vomiting and diarrhea.
Milder cases that cause symptoms similar to those associated with seasonal flu won’t usually require medical attention. Severe H1N1 infections can require hospitalizations and cause death. Pregnant women, diabetics and people who suffer from asthma, heart and kidney disease have the highest risk of severe disease.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT H1N1
Is it contagious?
Yes. A person can become infected by being exposed to the germs from a person infected with the virus.
How is it diagnosed?
You can ask your healthcare provider to swab the inside of your nose and have it sent to a lab for testing.
What is the treatment?
Call your doctor first and ask for any specific instructions that may suit your medical condition. They may recommend antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu or Relenza.
What if I’m not experiencing any symptoms?
Some infected people will show no symptoms. You should still incorporate the preventative steps daily to prevent the spread of germs.
What if my symptoms improve, but then return?
If your fever returns or your cough worsens, you should seek urgent medical attention, especially if you have difficulty breathing or experience persistent vomiting, sudden dizziness or pain in your chest or abdomen.
Download DCHHS’ flu prevention materials by clicking on the links below.