1) Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and discard the
used tissue in the waste basket. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your
sleeve, but never into your hands or onto bare skin.
How does the H1N1 virus spread?
Novel H1N1 flu virus spreads in the same way that seasonal flu spreads, mainly from
person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. It is also
possible to become infected by touching objects where flu viruses are present and then
touching one’s mouth or nose.
Why should I sneeze into my sleeve?
It is best to sneeze into an article of clothing in order to prevent the virus droplets from
being released into the environment rather than sneezing onto bare skin (such as hands)
which may come in contact with surfaces and other individuals.
Should I be wearing a mask?
The Centers for Disease Control has suggested only a few groups of individuals consider
wearing a mask to prevent the spread of novel H1N1 flu. A few of these include people
most vulnerable to complications from the virus who are taking care of a sick person in
their home and those sick from the virus traveling outside the home for medical care.
2) Keep your hands away from your face and don’t touch your mouth, nose and eyes.
Why shouldn’t I touch my face?
The novel H1N1 flu virus can be spread by touching your eyes, nose and mouth after
having contact with an infected surface. By limiting the amount you touch your face, you
can decrease your chances of infection.
3) Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand
What is the best hand-washing technique to avoid getting the flu?
Wash your hands frequently and for 15-20 seconds with soap and warm water. When
soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer. If using a gel
sanitizer, rub your hands together until the gel has dried.
4) Keep frequently used surfaces clean, such as like knobs, countertops and desks.
How long can a virus remain viable on object surfaces?
Influenza virus can infect a person from two to eight hours after being deposited on the
surface of an object.
What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of viruses?
It is important to keep surfaces clean by wiping them down with disinfectants according
to the directions on the product label. Frequently used surfaces, such as bedside tables,
kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces and children’s toys, should be disinfected often.
How should objects used by an infected person be handled?
Linens, eating utensils and dishes used by a sick person do not need to be cleaned
separately; however, they should not be shared without washing them thoroughly first.
Linens should be washed with laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting, and
individuals handling contaminated laundry should wash their hands immediately. Eating
utensils should be washed by hand with hot water and dish soap or in a dishwasher.
5) Stay home from work or school if you do get sick.
How long can an infected person spread the virus?
An infected person may be able to infect others from one day before getting sick until up
to 24 hours after your symptoms subside. This can be longer in people with weakened
immune systems and children.
How long should an infected person remain home from school or work?
If you are sick with flu-like illness, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your
fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines (except to receive medical
attention). Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from spreading the illness.
Please note: Healthcare workers should remain home for at least seven days or 24 hours
after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines—whichever is
What are schools doing to deal with H1N1?
Schools throughout Pennsylvania are being advised to prepare for both student and staff
novel H1N1 flu infections early. In addition to encouraging good prevention techniques,
Pennsylvania schools will follow a preparation checklist to control the spread of disease
without the disruption of a school closing.
What are workplaces doing to deal with H1N1?
Employers should encourage any employees infected with the virus to stay home to
reduce the risk of spreading the virus throughout the workplace. Employers can also
consider this preparation checklist to plan early regarding business continuity and
potential absenteeism, as well as downloadable materials to aid in communication with
What exactly is novel H1N1 flu (Swine Flu)?
Novel H1N1 flu is a new influenza virus detected in people in the U.S. in April 2009. The virus
spreads from person to person, and on June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization signaled
that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway.
Why is H1N1 referred to as “Swine Flu”?
The virus was originally called ―swine flu‖ because laboratory testing showed that many of the
genes in the virus were similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in North American pigs.
Further research has shown that it has two genes that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and
Asia, birds, and humans. While the novel H1N1 virus is commonly known as ―swine flu,‖ the
virus cannot be contracted from eating pork or pork products.
How does novel H1N1 flu compare to seasonal flu?
Like seasonal flu, illness can range from mild to severe. Those considered at ―high risk‖ of
serious complications account for 70 percent of hospitalizations due to novel H1N1 virus. The
biggest difference, however, is adults over the age of 64 do not appear to be at an increased risk
of novel H1N1 flu complications. Novel H1N1 flu has caused greater disease burdens in people
under the age of 25 than older people, which could be due to the fact that 1/3 of adults older than
60 may have antibodies against similar H1N1 viruses.
What conditions are considered “high risk”?
Underlying conditions include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease,
kidney disease, neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders and pregnancy.
Where can I find information about recent influenza disease activity in the U.S.?
Each week the CDC analyzes information about activity in the US and publishes findings of key
indicators in a report called FluView (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/).
What are the symptoms?
Influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea,
and may also include vomiting or diarrhea.
When should I seek emergency medical care for my child if they become ill?
Warning signs include:
-Fast breathing or trouble breathing
-Bluish or gray skin color
-Not drinking fluids
-Severe or persistent vomiting
-Not waking up or interacting
-Irritability, not wanting to be held or touched
-Flu symptoms improve but then return with fever and cough
-Persistent high fever
What are warning signs that an adult needs emergency care?
-Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
-Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
-Severe or persistent vomiting
-Flu symptoms improve but then return with fever and cough
VACCINATION AND MEDICATION
Is there a vaccine available to protect against novel H1N1 virus?
A vaccine is expected to be available in October. Due to a limited amount of vaccinations, the
Centers for Disease Control has identified the following as priority groups to receive the
1) Persons six months to 24 years old – This age group easily spreads the virus.
2) Healthcare providers and EMS Personnel- These professionals could spread illness
to vulnerable populations, and the healthcare system could suffer if there are high
absenteeism rates among healthcare workers.
3) Pregnant women- Evidence suggests that pregnant women are four times more
likely to develop serious complications or die when infected with the novel H1N1 flu.
By receiving the vaccination, they will pass their immunity on to the fetus which may
help protect the infants after birth.
4) Parents, household members and caregivers of children under six months-
Infants under six months old cannot be vaccinated, so immunizing family members
and care givers is the best way to keep the infants safe.
5) Adults under 65 with certain underlying medical conditions
Where can I get my novel H1N1 vaccine?
The PA Department of Health is planning to administer the novel H1N1 flu vaccine to as many
recommended persons as quickly as possible–with more vaccine available as the season
progresses–through a combination of public vaccination clinics, provider offices, retail settings,
pharmacies, workplaces, and through community vaccinators. Click here to find out where in
your community novel H1N1 flu shots will be distributed.
Are antiviral medications recommended for treating H1N1?
Although most people’s H1N1 symptoms will resolve without medical treatment, antiviral
medications may help lessen the symptoms of novel H1N1 flu, particularly for those people
considered most vulnerable to complications from the H1N1 virus. Healthcare providers can
prescribe these drugs when appropriate.
I’ve heard about several cases that the antiviral Tamiflu® is resistant to the novel H1N1
virus. Is Tamiflu ineffective against the virus?
While the flu virus can mutate at any time, this drug’s resistance to the virus does not mean the
virus has grown more intense.