The H1N1 (swine) influenza virus is widespread across Minnesota. MPR News has gathered information as starting point to help you and your family recognize symptoms of influenza, and what to do if you suspect that you might have the flu.
Find information on flu prevention, stay up to date with the latest H1N1 flu news, or learn more about the H1N1 vaccine. As always, consult your doctor before making any medical decision.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
You may have the flu if you have one or more of these symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting.
H1N1 flu does not always present with a fever
, and health authorities recommend taking you take precautions to avoid spreading any illness. (Information from the CDC
What should I do if I get sick?
If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Most people with 2009 H1N1 have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs, and the same is true of seasonal flu.
Children younger than 5, people older than 65, pregnant women and people with other medical conditions are more likely to get flu complications. They should talk to a health care provider about whether they need to be examined if they get flu symptoms this season. Also, it’s possible for healthy people to develop severe illness from the flu so anyone concerned about their illness should consult a health care provider. (Information from the CDC
How long should I stay home if I have the flu?
The CDC recommends that you stay home
for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other things you have to do and no one else can do for you. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.) You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings. (Information from the CDC
Is H1N1 any more dangerous than the regular seasonal flu?
It seems to behave much like mild to moderate seasonal flu for most people. But it can be very severe and deadly for some people. What's different about this flu is that it affects younger people disproportionately. Typically older people experience the worst flu symptoms. But with this new pandemic virus, there have been many severely ill kids, and some have died.
Why is 2009 H1N1 virus sometimes called "swine flu"?
This virus was originally referred to as "swine flu" because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs (swine) in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird (avian) genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.