Seasonal Flu viruses have been circulating in human populations for several years, allowing people to build up immunities to them. Most people do not yet have immunity to the new strain of H1N1 flu. A vaccine is available to prevent seasonal flu. A vaccine for novel H1N1 flu is being developed and is expected to be available in mid-October.
If I get a flu shot now, will it vaccinate me from both H1N1 and the seasonal flu?
No. Only seasonal flu vaccines are available right now at local pharmacies and through clinics and private physician practices. The H1N1 vaccine is not yet available until mid-October and will be made available to those at high risk first. In order to help prevent both strains of the flu, one would need to get both shots.
What is novel about the H1N1 and how is it transmitted?
The respiratory virus that is currently circulating in the United States is passed from person to person and has nothing to do with exposure to pig or pork products. The name now being used is novel H1N1 flu. Novel H1N1 flu is a respiratory illness thought to spread in the same way that the seasonal flu is spread, which is through people infected with the virus who are coughing and or sneezing. It can be spread by touching something contaminated and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
What are the symptoms of the H1N1 flu?
Almost all confirmed Texas cases with novel H1N1 had a sudden onset of fever (half having a temperature greater than 102.5 F) and cough. Most have a sore throat. Almost everyone with H1N1 flu has been taken care of at home successfully and has recovered in a few days. Illnesses with a lot of nasal congestion and mild fever are probably not H1N1. Illnesses with diarrhea and vomiting are probably not H1N1, although some confirmed cases of H1N1 have had such symptoms. Other symptoms include: body aches, runny nose, headaches and fatigue. People can infect others with H1N1 even before they show symptoms, and they remain contagious for seven or more days after they become sick.
What do I do if I have the symptoms?
Stay at home if you get sick. Stay home from work, school errands and limit close contact with others to avoid spreading infection. In most cases, people with H1N1 will get better without medical attention. If you have been diagnosed with H1N1, stay home while you have symptoms. Wait to be around people until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever reducing medications. If you work in a hospital or healthcare setting around people with high risk for complications from the flu, stay at home for 7 days after symptoms began or until your symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.
Should I be tested for the H1N1 flu?
Your healthcare provider will make the decision as to whether you should be tested. Most people do not need to be tested. It will not make a difference in how a person is treated. STRMC is following all guidelines from national and state organizations for testing. Only in very severe or unusual cases is specific testing for H1N1 necessary for recommended. The flu testing available at the hospital or doctor’s office is not specific for H1N1 and is generally not needed for successful Treatment and recovery.
What should I do if I live with someone sick with flu-like symptoms?
Keep the sick person away from others as much as possible. Remind the sick person to cover coughs, and wash hands with soap and water or alcohol- based rubs frequently. Especially after coughing or sneezing.
How do we get more information?
Continue to monitor the Department of State Health website at (www/texasflu.org) for information, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov & www.strmc.com