H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) Prevention and Survival Tips

What is this new flu?
"Swine flu" is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.

Although this new virus is called "swine flu," it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.

We've prepared this article to enable members to become both prepared and informed. Don't panic and keep this in perspective with a regular flu season. According to Dr. David Fleming, Director & Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County, "So far, locally and nationally, this swine flu strain appears to be no more severe than the flu we'd see in a typical flu season." The advice and recommendations shared are appropriate for good health and hygiene year round.

Everyday behaviors to stay healthy

  • Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise, practice stress relief and get adequate rest to keep your immune system healthy and ready for challenge.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue is unavailable, sneeze or cough into your sleeve at the elbow. Developing this habit will help prevent hand to object transmission of virus.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. To be effective, use soap and water, washing for 20 seconds. Help your child wash long enough by singing Happy Birthday or another short song during the wash. If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

What are the symptoms?
Human symptoms for this new type of H1N1 flu are similar to the symptoms of the regular "seasonal" influenza that happens each year. Symptoms include fever, cough and sore throat. In addition, fatigue, lack of appetite, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have been reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the H1N1 virus causing mild illness in some states is the same strain as the virus causing an outbreak of respiratory illness among humans in some areas of Mexico. It is not yet known if all of the fatal or hospitalized respiratory illness cases in Mexico are actually due to this virus. It is being investigated.

Should I go to the doctor?
It is not necessary to see a health care provider if flu symptoms are mild. If symptoms are more severe, call your health care provider to discuss if you or your child need to be seen and evaluated.

Keep children who are sick at home. Don't send them to school or daycare.

  • Have them drink a lot of liquid (juice, water, Pedialyte™).
  • Keep the sick child comfortable. Rest is important.
  • For fever, sore throat, and muscle aches, you can use fever-reducing medicines that your doctor recommends based on your child's age. Do not use aspirin with children or teenagers; it can cause Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness.
  • If someone in your home is sick, keep him or her away from those who are not sick.
  • Keep tissues close to the sick person and have a trash bag within reach for disposing used tissues.

If your child experiences any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care: