H1N1 (Swine) Flu: What You Should Know
By Marilyn Ferdinand
Editor, Our Children Magazine
Outbreaks of swine flu have been making headlines all over the world. What makes the swine flu more serious than other kinds of flu? What can you do to keep your family safe?
Novel H1N1 is a new influenza virus that was first detected in the United States in April 2009. It was initially called swine flu because it was thought to be similar to an illness that normally occurs only in pigs. However, testing has since revealed that this is not entirely true, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The symptoms of swine flu include:
- Fever (greater than 100°F or 37.8°C)
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Headache and body aches
A significant number of people who have been infected with novel H1N1 flu virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.
The World Health Organization is close to classifying the outbreak as a pandemic. This does not mean that the disease has become more deadly or that there is more cause for alarm, only that it has spread widely around the world.
- Avoid contact with those who are ill.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Follow the advice of local health and government authorities. You may be asked to restrict your movement and stay at home.
- Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, face masks, alcohol-based hand rubs, and other essential supplies.
If you think you have the flu
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Stay at home or in your hotel room.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Report your illness to your healthcare provider immediately.
- Do not go to work, school, or travel while ill.
Visit the CDC's website on H1N1 flu for updated information.