How can I prevent infection with H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu)? Is there a vaccine?
There is a vaccine against H1N1 flu that is available to all Canadians who want to be vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or local public health office about how to get the H1N1 vaccine. The best way to prevent any type of flu virus infection is to wash your hands often with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based sanitizers are also effective. If you use alcohol gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. Also keep all common surface areas such as doorknobs, light switches, and telephones clean and sanitized.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, because that is how germs are spread. Avoid close contact with people who have flu symptoms. If you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash after you have used it. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your arm, not your hands. In addition, eat a healthy well-balanced diet to keep your immune system strong. But if you end up feeling sick, just stay home.
What are the symptoms of H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu)?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu) are similar to those of regular human flu. They include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and extreme fatigue. Some people may experience diarrhea and vomiting. Although most people have recovered on their own, some people with severe illness have gone on to develop pneumonia or respiratory failure, and a small number have died as a result of the infection.
What should I do if I get flu symptoms? Are there medications available for treatment?
If you live in an area where swine flu cases have been identified or you have recently visited such an area, you should contact your health care provider if you develop symptoms of the flu. Let your doctor know that you were recently in such an area. Call your doctor's office before coming in so they can prepare for your visit. Your doctor may test you for influenza and/or may provide treatment.
Medications called antivirals can be used to treat swine flu. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are two antivirals that have been shown to be effective for the treatment and prevention of infection with swine flu viruses. They are most effective if taken within 48 hours after developing symptoms.
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