The H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, is becoming a problem for many communities. Because H1N1 is a new virus, few people have immunity to it.
According to the CDC, the H1N1 virus is causing serious health problems for healthy young people from birth through 24 years of age, pregnant women, and those aged 24 through 64 years with underlying medical conditions.
Unlike seasonal influenza, the H1N1 flu is more deadly to older children and young adults (ages 5 to 24), who may have existing health problems such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
People in these high-risk groups should already have been vaccinated – if not, they should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
The CDC recommends avoiding the doctor’s office unless the patient is experiencing severe flu symptoms, is a pregnant woman, or is a person who has an underlying medical condition. In these cases, call for instruction before visiting the doctor’s office or hospital.
The H1N1 virus is most dangerous when it is contracted by a person with a weakened immune system, a person who is ill could contract H1N1 while at the doctor’s office.
The CDC believes that most people suffering flu symptoms will have a few miserable days as their bodies’ immune systems combat the virus, but will be fine without testing or treatment.
People at high-risk for H1N1 or seasonal flu should be vaccinated for both viruses. Stay home from work if you are sick. Keep children home from school if they are sick. (Stay home at least 24 hours after the fever goes away without the use of fever-reducing drugs.) If you can’t stay home, keep your distance to avoid infecting others.
Practice good hand-washing and teach children why and how they should wash their hands. It is an easy way to decrease viral or bacterial infections.
Cough or sneeze into your shirtsleeve or elbow instead of your hands. If your hands are used to cover your cough or sneeze, cleanse your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.