Is the influenza A(H1N1) virus the same as the A(H1N1) virus that normally circulates?
No. The new influenza A(H1N1) virus, which appeared in late April, is antigenically very different from the A(H1N1) viruses that circulate every year during the flu season. Accordingly, seasonal flu vaccines will probably not offer protection against the new virus.
What are the symptoms of influenza A(H1N1)?
The symptoms of influenza A(H1N1) are similar to those of seasonal flu: fever, coughing, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, and muscular aches. Certain people infected by the A(H1N1) virus will also experience runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may vary from one person to another and, as with seasonal flu, complications may occur in those with underlying chronic conditions.
How is influenza A(H1N1) transmitted?
The influenza virus can be transmitted very easily via droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected person.A person can contract influenza by touching his or her nose, mouth, or eyes after coming into contact with a contaminated surface or infected person. Symptoms emerge between one and seven days after contamination. Note that a patient can be contagious 24 hours before symptoms begin and up to 7 days after they end.The influenza virus survives best in clean, dry surfaces. It spreads through close contact between persons, in circumstances such as living with other people, caring for a patient, using public transit, and attending cultural, sporting, or other public events.
How long can the A(H1N1) virus survive outside the body?
The virus can survive for some time on hard surfaces. However, it can be easily be destroyed by hand-washing with soap and warm water or with hand disinfectant. Household disinfectants destroy the virus on surfaces.
What are the incubation period and the contagious period for influenza A(H1N1)?
Influenza A(H1N1) symptoms develop between one and seven days after contamination. The patient can be contagious 24 hours before symptoms begin and up to 7 days after they end.
What should I do if I have flu symptoms?
People in good health normally recover on their own. People with influenza A(H1N1) should, as far as possible, stay home and rest until their symptoms end. Although influenza does not normally need to be treated with medication, non-prescription medications can be used to ease symptoms. To avoid infecting others, it is important to limit contact with family and friends until the end of symptoms.
Cover your mouth and nose with a paper tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Throw the tissue in the garbage.
If you don’t have a paper tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or your upper arm.
Wash your hands frequently. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an antiseptic hand wash.
When should I consult a health care professional if I have the flu?
In general, a health care professional should be consulted when a person with influenza symptoms, including fever, also presents:
a risk of complications due to age (under 2 years or over 65 years) or a chronic illness;
a risk of complications due to pregnancy;
pain when breathing or difficulty breathing;
vomiting for more than four hours;
confusion or convulsions.
What medications are used to treat influenza A(H1N1)?
Antivirals are used for the prevention and early treatment of influenza. If they are taken within 48 hours following the onset of the illness, they can attenuate its symptoms, reduce their duration, and possibly prevent complications. Antivirals are not vaccines, however, and cannot provide immunity from the virus. The only possible way to be immunized against the flu is to get the vaccination.
For any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask your local pharmacist