News | Published November 1, 2009

Spread the Word, Not the Flu

Much like seasonal flu, although a different virus, 2009 H1N1 is highly contagious with symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. H1N1 and seasonal flu can exacerbate existing health conditions and result in pneumonia, respiratory failure and even, in rare cases, death. Those who are infected with H1N1 and seasonal flu are able to pass the virus on to others one day before they exhibit symptoms to up to seven days after symptoms are evident. Similar to seasonal cold and flu prevention, the number one way to protect oneself from the H1N1 virus is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer, especially before eating. Here are a few more tips to prevent the spread of germs: • Eat healthy, exercise and drink lots of liquids to bolster your immune system. • Disinfect tables, bathroom and kitchen surfaces and toys often since flu viruses can survive on surfaces for two to eight hours. • When you can’t wash your hands and when traveling, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of tissues promptly. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. •Avoid close contact with those who are ill. •If you are feeling sick, stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides, except to get medical care. Although H1N1 and seasonal flu will eventually run its course in five to seven days, there are symptoms in children and adults that warrant a visit to the emergency department. Watch for these symptoms in CHILDREN: • Fast or difficulty breathing • Bluish or gray skin color • Not drinking enough liquids • Severe or persistent vomiting • Not waking up or not interacting • Irritability and the child does not want to be touched • Symptoms improve but then return with a fever and worsened cough

The following symptoms in ADULTS also require immediate medical attention: • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen • Confusion • Severe or persistent vomiting • Symptoms improve but then return with a fever and worsened cough

Click here for more information about H1N1 or the seasonal flu—including how-to self-care guidelines if you are sick with the flu—or call 814.231.7177.