H1N1, “swine” Flu - the latest information
I attended a presentation by Mr. Bill Hall, Director of News & Media Relations for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, yesterday at one of my kids' schools.
Here is some of the information that he presented:
What is the Flu?
The flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses.
What is the H1N1 Flu?
It is a new and different influenza that is spreading worldwide among people. It is called the “swine flu” at first because it has pieces of flu viruses found in pigs in the past. The H1N1 has NOT been detected in U.S. pigs.
How serious is the flu?
The flu can be very serious especially for younger children and children of any age that have one or more chronic conditions or “at risk” conditions. These conditions include asthma, or other lung problems, diabetes, weakened immune systems, kidney disease, heart problems, and neurological or neuromuscular disorders.
How does the flu spread?
Both the seasonal flu and the “swine flu” are thought to spread mostly though the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the influenza.
People may also get sick by touching something with the flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
*** the flu virus can stay on a surface (door knob, counter, faucet handle etc.) for up to 8 hours
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may even have vomiting and/or diarrhea.
How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?
People infected with the flu can infect others from 1 day prior to getting sick to 5-8 days after.
How can I protect my child against the flu?
Get a seasonal flu vaccine
Take everyday precautions such as:
-Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve, elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. And throw the tissue away after use.
-Wash your hands often with soap and water, sing Happy Birthday 2 times.
Use an alcohol based sanitizer if no soap is available.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
-Try to keep children from having close contact (about 6 feet) with people who are sick, including anyone in the family/household.
-Keep surfaces like kitchen counters, door knobs, toys and bathroom fixtures clean by wiping with a disinfectant according to the product label.
-Throw away tissues and any other disposable items used by a sick or infected person.
Who is at risk for the H1N1 virus?
-Pregnant women and the very young are at risk.
-Those with any underlying health conditions are at risk for the flu.
-Children, teens and young adults are considered at risk.
(Anyone born before 1957 seems to have immunity because of the swine flu they may have been exposed to.)
Is there a vaccine to protect my child?
A vaccine for the H1N1 flu is being produced and should be ready for distribution by Oct 1.
Children under 10 should get 3 shots – 1 seasonal flu vaccine, a “swine flu” vaccine and 21 days later a “swine flu” booster vaccine.
Children over 10 should get 2 shots – 1 seasonal flu vaccine and a “swine flu” vaccination.
There are no adverse effects from the swine flu vaccination.
Are there medications to treat the flu?
Antiviral drugs can treat both the seasonal and “swine” flu. These drugs can make people feel better and get better soon, but they need to be prescribed by a Dr.
The antiviral medications currently on the market are Tamiflu and Relenza.
What should I do if my child gets sick?
If your child is 5 yrs or older and otherwise healthy, consult your Dr. as needed and make sure your child gets lots of liquids and rest. Treat the symptoms like any other cold or flu, with Advil, Tylenol, etc.
DO NOT GIVE CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OLD ASPIRIN – this could cause your child to get Ryes Syndrome.
If your child is younger than 5 yrs of age and/or has a medical condition and develops flu like symptoms call your Dr. or get medical attention.
What if my child seems really sick?
Even children who have always been healthy or had the flu before can get a severe case of the flu.
Call or take your child to the Dr. right away of your child has:
-Fast breathing or trouble breathing
-bluish or gray skin color
-not drinking enough fluids
-severe or persistent vomiting
-not waking up or not interacting
-being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
-flu like symptoms improve but then returns
-has other health or underlying conditions and develops flu symptoms
Can my child go to school, camp, or day care?
NO your child should stay home to rest and avoid spreading the flu to others. Your child should be fever free for 24 hours without the assistance of fever reducing medications, before returning to school, camp, day care.
Various other notes:
-Pandemic means “global spread” NOT deadly.
-Make sure you have at least 2 weeks of supplies at your home so that you can stay at home to take care of your family member with the flu and so that you are not going out to the grocery store or pharmacy infecting others.
-Something to tell your children – If it’s wet and it’s not yours, DON’T touch it!
-Teach your kids to do the elephant – cough or sneeze into their elbow.
-If you think you’re sick but not sure it’s the flu, don’t go to the Dr., you could be placing yourself at risk because your immune system may be weakened and the flu may be present in the Dr’s office.
-most deaths associated with the “swine flu” are not from the flu itself but from pneumonia.
For more information go to:
or call 1-800-CDC-INFO