Childhood Diseases Common Illnesses Swine Flu

H1N1, an influenza virus that was first detected in the United States in April 2009, is commonly known as swine flu. This disease gets its name from the initial belief that the virus was similar to one seen in North American pigs. In actuality, however, H1N1 is quite different from any virus that pigs get in North America.

H1N1 Overview

Cases of the swine flu H1N1 can range from mild to severe. Most people who’ve acquired the virus are not seriously affected and recover in a relatively short amount of time. There have, however, been numerous cases of hospitalization and deaths related to H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that “No children and very few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibody to 2009 H1N1 flu virus; however, about one-third of adults older than 60 may have antibodies against this virus.” Why is this significant? Unlike the seasonal flu, the elderly are not at increased risk for acquiring H1N1.

Swine Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of H1N1 are very much like those of seasonal influenza, and include the following:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose.

Some additional symptoms that are more specific to the swine flu H1N1 are vomiting and diarrhea.

Swine Flu Symptoms - 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu Symptoms

H1N1 Vaccine

There are two kinds of H1N1 vaccines currently available:

  • H1N1 shot: This inactivated vaccine is made with killed virus, rather than weakened live cultures. The shot is administered in the arm, and can be given to anyone over 6 months of age.
  • Nasal spray: The nasal spray vaccine is made with live, weakened strains of virus, and is given to those between the ages of 2 and 49.

It is recommended that certain target groups receive the vaccine, due to increased risk of contracting the disease. These groups include:

  • Healthcare providers
  • People 25 through 64 years of age with conditions that put them at high-risk of contacting flu-related complications
  • People 6 through 24 years old
  • People who care for infants younger than 6 months old
  • Pregnant women.

Treatment and Prevention of H1N1

In addition to treatments of the seasonal flu, the CDC also recommends designating a sick room for infected family members. This helps to prevent the spread of germs by isolating them to one area of the home. In this sick room, you should have tissues, a pitcher of water and separate drinking glasses for each ill person. A humidifier can also help by adding moisture to the air.

Medical professionals recommend that infected people wear facemasks when leaving the sick room. If you have more than one bathroom in your house, it’s a good idea to have infected persons use separate facilities as well. Visit the CDC Web site if you want more detailed information about the H1N1 swine flu.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (n.d.). 2009 H1N1 (“swine flu”) and you. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/qa.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2009). Key facts about 2009 H1N1 vaccine. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_keyfacts.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2009). Make a separate sick room, if you can. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/homecare/sickroom.htm.

Med Line Plus Staff (n.d.). H1N1 (swine flu). Retrieved December 17, 2009, from the Med Line Plus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/h1n1fluswineflu.html#cat28.