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H1N1 Flu Questions and Answers
|Frequently Asked Questions|
What is the difference between H1N1 flu and seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu is usually caused by a virus that has been identified in humans and has caused flu outbreaks during past flu seasons. H1N1 is a newly identified flu virus in humans. Seasonal flu outbreaks do not affect everyone and usually occur every winter. Many people develop some immunity to the more familiar strains of flu, often through their annual flu vaccinations. New or “novel” strains such as H1N1 are flu viruses that were not identified in previous years. Therefore, no vaccines have been developed, and most people do not have natural immunity. These novel flu viruses can occur any time of the year.
How is H1N1 spread?
H1N1 flu is mainly spread from person-to-person the same way that seasonal flu is spread, through the coughing or sneezing of infected people. Sometimes the touching of objects (e.g., sharing water bottles) that have been contaminated with the flu virus and then touching the eyes, nose and/or mouth will spread the virus.
If I get the flu, what are the symptoms and how long will I be sick?
Currently the virus is thought to last 5-7 days, however, the severity of the illness varies. Symptoms can include, fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Infrequently, people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting. If you think have the flu, you should stay home until your fever has been gone without medication for 24 hours. If you have a temperature or are feeling very ill, self-isolate as much as possible (e.g., stay in your room, do not attend class and other activities). You should also notify Student Health Services (SHS) at ext. 0220, and the SHS staff will be happy to assist you.
How can I decrease my chances of getting the H1N1 flu?
As with any flu, good health practices are essential. Eat healthy, get exercise, get enough rest, and drink adequate fluids. In addition, wash your hands often especially before you eat, after coughing, sneezing, and using the bathroom. Cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve when coughing or sneezing. If using tissues, dispose of them promptly. What about medications to prevent the flu? A vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus is in the development stage, but is not currently available. There are anti-viral drugs that are believed to cut down on the length and severity of the illness. At this time, these drugs are only prescribed at the discretion of individual physicians. A vaccine is in the development stage against H1N1 flu, but is not available at the present time. Seasonal flu vaccination is always recommended, and these vaccinations will be given on campus beginning mid-October.
If my roommate gets the flu, do I need to move out of my room?
Unfortunately, you have already been exposed to the virus, as it is believed that persons with the flu virus are contagious within 24 hours of having symptoms and/or up to seven days after becoming sick. Roommates of ill students who do not have symptoms can attend classes, but should make sure to keep their hands clean, avoid touching dirty tissues, cough or sneeze into their sleeves rather than their hands, and practice good health habits. If symptoms develop, follow the recommendations above and contact Student Health Services (ext. 0220) for further assistance and information.
What are some additional resources for more information about the H1N1 flu virus?
The best resource on campus is Student Health Services. Staff may also be contacted by phone during normal business hours. The U.S. Government also has posted information regarding the H1N1 virus on the following Web sites: