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General Information about H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) 

H1N1 Fact Sheet

What is H1N1 flu (swine flu)?
The H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, is a virus that can spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, the germs spread in droplets through the air and onto surfaces that other people may touch. H1N1 virus is not transmitted from eating or preparing pork products. H1N1 flu is called an "influenza pandemic" because it is spreading easily from one person to another and is found in many countries. 

What are the symptoms of H1N1 flu (swine flu)?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal flu and include:

  • fever
  • cough 
  • sore throat 
  • body aches 
  • headache 
  • chills
  • fatigue
Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 flu as well.

What is a pandemic?
H1N1 flu is called an "influenza pandemic" because it is spreading easily from one person to another and is found in many countries. The evidence so far shows that the virus has been mild in most cases. But since this is a new flu virus for which the population has little or no immunity, scientists and health professionals are concerned that as it passes through populations, it could mutate (change) to become more serious and return with increased force in the fall/winter influenza season.

How can I protect myself from getting sick?
Get the H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available to you. Everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza and protect your health include:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. 
  • If no tissue is available, cough into your shirt 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. Germs can be spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Avoid shaking hands; do a fist-bump or elbow-bump as an alternative. 
  • If you get sick with influenza, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What do I do if I have flu symptoms?
If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. The Mecklenburg County Health Department does not do testing or give treatment for H1N1 flu. If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness. Advise on what to do if you have symptoms.

When should I seek emergency medical care?

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • In babies, bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation
How do I care for someone who is sick?
For information that can help you provide safer care at home for sick persons during a flu outbreak or flu pandemic, download the taking care of someone sick.
When is an infected person contagious?
People infected with seasonal and H1N1 flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 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.

Who is recommended to receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine?
CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine first. These target groups include:

  • pregnant women
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
  • persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old,
  • people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Is a H1N1 flu (swine flu) vaccine available?
Learn about the current H1N1 vaccine availability in Mecklenburg County.
How many doses are required?
Children through 9 years of age should get two doses of vaccine, about a month apart. Older children and adults need only one dose. You do not need to get the vaccine from the same provider.
For more information about H1N1 influenza, please see CDC's Frequently Asked Questions about H1N1 flu.

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