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H1N1 Influenza Frequently Asked Questions

What is the H1N1 (swine) influenza?

Previously referred to as "swine flu," the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza A is a flu virus causing illness in people. It was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway.

What are the symptoms of the H1N1 (swine) flu?

The symptoms of this strain of influenza are similar to the symptoms of the seasonal flu, which could include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. While the illness is relatively mild in most people, severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

How does novel H1N1 virus spread?

Spread of novel H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something -- such as a surface or object -- with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

People infected with novel H1N1 influenza (and with seasonal flu) may be able to infect others from one day before getting sick to five to seven days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and in people infected with the new H1N1 virus.

How can I protect myself from getting sick?

A novel H1N1 flu vaccine currently is being tested and may be ready for the public in the fall. Vaccines are the most powerful public health tool in controlling influenza. As always, a vaccine will be available to protect against seasonal influenza.

People also can practice good hygiene and take everyday steps to keep everyone healthy:

  • 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 not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or another part of your arm that is covered by a sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to stop the spread of germs.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you think you have the flu, stay home. Isolate yourself from others.
  • Be vigilant about keeping your living, study and work spaces clean by using household products, which will kill the germs that spread influenza, including H1N1 flu.

Are there medications that treat H1N1 influenza?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medications that fight flu by keeping the influenza virus from reproducing in the body. These medicines can make your illness milder, make you feel better faster and may prevent serious flu complications. This fall, the priority use of antiviral medications may be for those with severe illness or those who are at higher risk for flu complications.

Will those who are suspected of having H1N1 influenza be identified?

Releasing the names and locations of students who are sick is a violation of HIPAA, the federal rule that governs patient privacy. Saint Louis University understands members of the University community are concerned and University officials are in contact with local and state health departments about this public health issue. The University also is following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines on assessing and treating positive cases and complying with CDC's hygiene recommendations to minimize the potential spread of the illness on campus.

Where can I get more information?

The latest information will be available at www.slu.edu/flu , which will include regular updates as well as information for students, employees and parents. Parents who wish to speak with someone can call the Parents Information line at (314) 977-2229. Students who have general questions can call (314) 977-7326.


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