Information On H1N1 Aka Swine Flu

8:48:00 PM Kelly Leronowich 1 Comments

What is pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?

• It is a new strain of the influenza A virus (2009). The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a pandemic virus.
• It contains a combination of genes from pigs (swine), bird (avian) and human influenza viruses that have never previously been detected in humans and swine.
• Most people have no immunity to protect them from getting sick with this new virus.
• This virus is being detected in humans in many countries around the world and is spreading from person to person in communities.
The severity of illness has been similar to seasonal influenza, causing mostly mild illness. However, there have been some cases of severe disease requiring hospitalization and a few deaths.

• It spreads the same way as seasonal influenza – from person to person through “droplets” that are released through the air when an infected person coughs and sneezes. The droplets can then be breathed in by others.
• The virus can also be contracted through:
o Shaking hands that are contaminated with the virus; and
o Touching a hard surface, such as a counter or door handle that has been contaminated with the virus.
• A person then becomes infected by then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
• The virus is considered infectious for up to eight hours on hard surfaces and only a few minutes on soft surfaces.
• People with mild symptoms generally do not require testing.
• Usually persons are contagious from one day before, up to seven days after symptoms begin.
Children, especially younger children, immunocompromised individuals and those with severe illness may be contagious for a longer period, i.e. up to 10 days
• If you are sick with influenza-like illness, stay home from work or school for seven days from the start of your symptoms or until you are able to resume normal activities, whichever is shorter.
• Avoid close contact with others as much as possible. This is to keep you from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

The symptoms of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in Canada have been generally mild, but illness can be severe for some individuals. The symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza and may include:
• Sudden onset of fever and cough;
• Fatigue;
• Muscle aches;
• Lack of appetite;
• Some people may also experience a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

What can You do to protect yourself and others from pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?

You can take simple measures to minimize the risk of being infected.
1. Stay home from work or school for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you are feeling well enough to resume normal activities, whichever is shorter.
2. Help prevent infection with pandemic influenza by getting the vaccine that is anticipated to be available to the public in November 2009.
3. Clean hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When done correctly, this is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of infections.
4. Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand.
5. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after shaking hands or touching hard surfaces like counters and door handles or other surfaces that may harbour influenza and other viruses. Keep common surfaces clean and disinfected.
6. Stay at least two metres (six feet) away from people who are experiencing influenza-like symptoms. This is called social distancing and includes staying away from crowds when influenza is circulating in the community.
7. Other steps to keep yourself healthy include:
o Healthy eating;
o Maintaining an active lifestyle; and
o Getting enough rest and sleep.
Pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine

Clinics will begin immunizing all Albertans over six months of age against H1N1 as early as October 26.
• The seasonal influenza vaccine being used in Canada this year is not effective against this new strain of influenza, but is an important measure to prevent infection with seasonal influenza.
• Immunization is an important measure to prevent getting influenza.
Find an influenza clinic in your area.

How to care for yourself and others
What should you do if you are concerned that you have symptoms of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?


Refer to answer on pandemic H1N1 influenza home page.

What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who is sick with pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?

• If you are well, no further action is needed. Monitor yourself for symptoms of influenza illness for four days.
o The incubation period for the virus is the time from when people become infected until they develop symptoms.
If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection with a sudden fever and cough. Go the ER or call your Doctor

A six-phased pandemic alert is used to determine the approach to activating plans that prepare for and respond to a new influenza virus capable of causing a worldwide epidemic.
More information is on the WHO website.

What does WHO raising the pandemic level to Phase 6 mean?

The Phase 6 designation is a measure of where and how widespread the new virus is around the world.
• It is not indicative of how severe the disease is. The risk level to the general public remains low.
• Alberta has a pandemic plan that has been unfolding in response to the levels of pandemic alert.
Information gathered from Alberta Health Services Website ( www.health.alberta.ca)

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