Microsoft word - h1n1_fact_sheet.doc
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT PANDEMIC INFLUENZA A (H1N1) OR “SWINE FLU” *
1. What is pandemic H1N1 influenza virus?
If you get sick, stay at home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
The pandemic A (H1N1) influenza (flu) virus (germ) is a new member of the influenza virus family. Different
4. Symptoms of an influenza like illness:
influenza viruses cause the annual seasonal (winter) flu
These are the same for pandemic and seasonal influenza.
and, every few decades, a global pandemic
Typical symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever,
Influenza viruses infect birds and mammals and are
cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, body
usually species specific. Occasionally viruses cross over
aches, chills, tiredness, and lack of appetite. Some of
from one species to another. The pandemic A (H1N1)
those affected have reported nausea, vomiting, and
virus seems to have originated in pigs; however it is not
spreading in pigs or from pigs to humans but only between
5. What to do if you or your child has symptoms?
Seasonal human influenza results in 6000 to 10 000
Children and adults who are sick should stay at home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have
deaths every winter in South Africa and between 250 000 -
been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.
500 000 deaths globally, mostly in people over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions. In contrast,
Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks,
during pandemic influenza many of the deaths occur in
electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being
younger and apparently healthy individuals. The number of
deaths during an influenza pandemic varies greatly, depending mostly on the virulence of the virus, but also on
Dishes etc. can be cleaned with hot soapy water.
factors like crowding, individual health, access to health
Throw away tissues and other disposable items used
care, and preventive measures. For the 1918 flu pandemic
by the sick person in the trash. Wash your hands after
estimates of 25 to 40 million deaths worldwide are often
touching used tissues and similar waste.
quoted. The estimates for excess deaths worldwide in the 1957 and 1968 pandemics are between one and two
Have everyone in the household wash hands often
with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also
2. How does the flu virus spread?
Influenza viruses are very infectious. It is almost
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs
impossible to stop influenza viruses, whether seasonal or
pandemic, from spreading from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing by infected people.
A person who is sick should recover in his or her own
Touching surfaces such as counters and doorknobs with
If someone in your home is sick, as far as possible
influenza viruses on them can also infect people and
keep the person away from those who are not sick
afterwards their mouth, nose or eyes. This is why hand-washing helps. However influenza viruses are very
If a household member needs to come into the room
infectious and all precautions can only decrease, but not
keep at least an arms length away (1 to 2 meters) and
3. How can the spread be limited?
6. Take medications as prescribed:
You can reduce the risk of getting or spreading influenza
Take medications for symptom relief as needed for
fever and pain such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. These medicines do not need to be taken regularly if
Wash your hands or clean them with alcohol-based
hand rubs frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze and before you eat.
Do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or products that contain aspirin to children or teenagers 18 years
Cover your nose and mouth with a clean tissue when
you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately after you have used it.
Children younger than 4 years of age should not be given over-the-counter cold medications without first
Alternatively, cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as you could
Should you be prescribed antiviral medication take it
as directed (where applicable – see 5 below).
Limit close (1 to 2 meter) contact with people who are sick with flu.
Continue to cover your cough and wash your hands
The antiviral drugs oseltamivir or zanamivir are only
often (even when taking antiviral medications), to
recommended for those at risk of complications: see
Call the clinic/GP if you (or your child) experience any
10. Who is at risk of complications?
side effects; i.e. nausea, vomiting, rash, or unusual
1. Persons (adults or children) with underlying medical
conditions and who are receiving regular medical care
7. When to seek emergency care
for chronic pulmonary disease (including asthma) and cardiac disease (excluding hypertension), chronic renal
If your child experiences any of the following:
and hepatic diseases, diabetes mellitus and similar
2. Individuals who are immuno-suppressed (HIV-infected,
3. Adults and children who have any condition (e.g.,
difficulty in understanding, spinal cord injuries, seizure
or other neuromuscular disorders) which make it difficult to cough and are at risk of inhaling respiratory
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be
5. Children and adolescents on aspirin therapy and at risk
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever
of Reye’s syndrome if contracting any kind of flu;
6. Residents of nursing homes, and other chronic-care
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent
medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
who do not have flu symptoms should
continue with their regular daily activities, including
going to work or school, whether or not they have or
been in contact with someone who is reported to have
Outbreaks in Institutions
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Should a significant number of learners or students or residents of an institution be affected by the spread of
8. Who should be tested?
influenza, an outbreak investigation may be indicated to
Laboratory testing of people with a flu-like illness is NOT
quantify the size of the impact and assess the trends to
generally recommended, as it is expensive and does not
inform decision making. (Useful website:
Laboratory testing is only recommended for the
* The source of most of this information is from the
with the above symptoms and a
Revised Health Workers Handbook on Pandemic Influenza
clinical picture of severe respiratory disease where a
A (H1N1) 2009 “Swine Flu” by the National Institute for
positive test will affect patient management.
Communicable Diseases, updated on 22 July 2009
Patients with co-morbid disease and at risk for serious
Centre for Infectious Diseases • Faculty of Health
complications (see 10 below) and who have the
symptoms and signs of severe acute respiratory
Stellenbosch University • www.sun.ac.za
Clusters of cases where a diagnosis of the cause of the outbreak is needed.
An individual who has died where pandemic influenza A (H1N1) is suspected as the cause of death.
9. What medications are available to treat H1N1 flu
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University of California, Irvine School of Medicine• Mr. C is a 92 year old man who lives in an apartment adjacent to his daughter’s house, with the assistance of a paid caregiver– Atrial fibrillation– Prostatic hypertrophy and an indwelling catheter– Osteoarthritis – Glaucoma– Congestive Heart Failure• He is responsible for taking his own Rx• Recently the CHF worsened and i