Flu facts: Things to know about the H1N1 virus
- Symptoms: Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
- Treatment: Over-the-counter cold and flu medications can help lessen some symptoms. Antiviral medications can also be used to for severe cases. Patients age 18 and younger should not be given aspirin or products containing aspirin due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
- Stopping the spread: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay away from others for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Just as in sports, the best offense against the H1N1 virus is a good defense, health officials say.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like other flu strains, the H1N1 virus is spread "from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby."
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reports that the virus could "produce infection of 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population this fall and winter, with symptoms in approximately 20 to 40 percent of the population."
Of the expected 60 to 120 million Americans who will suffer from H1N1 symptoms, half of those cases are expected to seek medial attention, with as many as 1.8 million leading to hospitalization, the Council reported.
To stop the spread of the virus, the CDC is recommending that everyone avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Frequent hand washing is also recommend, as is using tissue when sneezing or coughing.
According to a White House report, the H1N1 virus poses a serious health threat to the nation not because it is more deadly than other flu strains, but because fewer people have an immunity to the virus, meaning more likely will become ill.
H1N1 symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu: fatigue, body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, stuffy nose and chills. Some H1N1 patients also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.
While many people may choose to avoid large gatherings to avoid coming in contact with excess germs, national health officials aren’t recommending any school closings.
"What we know is that we have the virus right now traveling around the United States," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday during a nationally broadcast interview. "What we learned last spring is that shutting a school down sort of pre-emptively doesn’t stop the virus from spreading."
On the university level, there has been one confirmed case at Gainesville State College and one at Brenau University. University of Georgia officials report about 20 confirmed H1N1 cases at the school’s Athens campus.
Although the majority of H1N1 cases are expected to be mild, as many as 90,000 deaths could be caused by the virus; that’s twice as many deaths that are attributed to the seasonal flu.
Federal health officials are recommending that Americans get both the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines when they become available in the upcoming weeks.