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Home > Clerc Center > H1N1 Flu > H1N1 (Swine) Flu FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the H1N1 (Swine) Flu

Information on this page has been taken from the www.flu.gov website, an official U.S. government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1. What is H1N1 (swine) flu and how is it different from the regular flu?

H1N1 flu is is a contagious respiratory illness caused by an influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness. The H1N1 is different from the annual seasonal flu we are familiar with in that it is a type of flu virus that has not been found in humans often in the past.

2. What are the symptoms of the H1N1 flu?

The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and coughing. Some people with H1N1 flu have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

3. How does the H1N1 virus spread among people?

Spread of this H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

4. How can I reduce the risk of getting sick from the H1N1 virus?

A vaccine for the N1H1 virus should be available sometime in October 2009. It is believed that the spread of the H1N1 virus occurs in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with the flu. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something—such as a surface or object infected with flu virus secretions—and then touching their mouth or nose. You can help prevent the spread of the flu in our community by following these tips:

  1. Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, and school, and avoid running errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  4. Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits.
    Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

5. How long is a sick person contagious?

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick.