What is H1N1 Flu?
H1N1 flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a new type of A influenza virus not seen in humans before this year. H1N1 is not the same as the seasonal flu and it is possible to become ill with both types of flu in the upcoming flu season.
How does H1N1 Flu spread?
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with flu. Sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. You cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products.
What are the symptoms of H1N1 Flu?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. In rare cases, severe illness and death have been reported. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Is there a vaccine for H1N1 Flu?
Yes. H1N1 vaccine is being distributed to registered providers and vaccine is now available at many retail pharmacies. While it important for everyone to get a seasonal flu shot, the seasonal flu vaccination will not protect against the H1N1 swine flu virus. One H1N1 vaccination is adequate to achieve immunity for persons 10 years and older.
Why is H1N1 Vaccine a separate vaccination?
The three strains of influenza that are put into the usual seasonal vaccine are chosen in February in order to start production in time for the fall. In 2009, the H1N1 (swine) strain was not isolated until April, after seasonal vaccine production had started.
Is H1N1 vaccination safe? Has it been tested?
Yes. H1N1 vaccination is made with the same exact process as standard seasonal flu vaccine. It has been tested in thousands of volunteers before being approved by the FDA.
Should I have H1N1 vaccination if I already had the flu this summer?
Yes. Most cases of presumptive H1N1 are not documented. Those who may have had the illness should still be vaccinated.
Is intranasal vaccine safe?
Yes, the intranasal vaccine is safe. It is licensed only for those 2 to 49 years of age and should not be given to those with the following conditions: pregnant women, immuno-compromised hosts, people who have heart, kidney or metabolic diseases, a history of Guillain Barre syndrome, those taking aspirin therapy or those allergic to any component of the vaccine.
Is there mercury in the vaccine?
There are very small amounts of thimerosal, a preservative containing ethyl mercury, in the multi-dose vials of vaccine which will be available during the week of Nov 2. It is important to know that thimerosal containing vaccine has never been shown to be associated with adverse events, despite misleading reports in the press. Preservative-free vaccine will be available for children less than 6 years of age and for pregnant women at a later date.
Is there an adjuvant (an additional component which boosts the immune response) added to the H1N1 vaccine?
No. There is no adjuvant added to the vaccine. Some studies are published and others are ongoing using an adjuvant (called squalene) for possible future use. The currently FDA approved H1N1 vaccine available in the US has no adjuvant added.
Who is eligible to receive H1N1 vaccine?
Centers for Disease Control has also identified the following priority groups:
children from 6 months to 24 years old
health care providers
care providers to infants under 6 months of age
individuals 25 to 64 years old who have underlying medical conditions
Adequate H1N1 vaccine supply is now available for anyone interested in receiving a vaccination.
How can I protect myself against the Flu?
Get your seasonal flu shot.
Get your H1N1 flu shot when it becomes available.
Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze, use the restroom, before and after preparing food or eating, and before or after touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
Use alcohol-based hand cleaners if soap and water are not available.
How can I protect my family and the UCSF community against Flu?
Every time you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue and then throw used tissues in the trash. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Stay home when you are sick with a fever, cough, or sore throat.
If you become sick at work or during class with flu-like symptoms, tell your supervisor or faculty and go home.
Stay home until you are free of flu symptoms for 24 hours.
When is an infected person contagious?
Stay home from work or school. Go home if you become ill at work or school.
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. However, people are most contagious during the first 3 days of illness.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Limit contact with others in order to keep from infecting them.
Follow your customary departmental/programmatic procedures for sick leave notification.
Stay home until you are free of flu symptoms for 24 hours.
Is there a treatment for the H1N1 Flu?
I have upcoming travel plans. Is there anything I need to do?
Antiviral medications are used for treatment and/or prevention of influenza. They are available only by prescription from a doctor. At present, the priority use for antivral medications is treatment of people with severe influenza illness or at risk for complications. It is important to note that the majority of H1N1 flu cases have been mild and most infections resolve without medication.
Faculty, staff and students who register their UC business trips through the UC travel system can be automatically notified about emerging global health threats or disasters. When traveling overseas, be sure to register your travel at in order to have access to emergency medical assistance if you become sick while traveling and/or require evacuation and to receive real-time online travel alerts on communicable disease outbreaks and other emergency conditions.
Be aware that travel restrictions may be enacted by some countries, which could limit your ability to return home if you become sick while traveling. Check the UCSF Risk Management Travel Safety web page for more information: https://www.rmis.ucsf.edu/RMISDetails.aspx?Panel=9. If you have influenza-like symptoms after you return from travel, do not come to work or school. Seek medical care/clearance from your primary care provider.
How can I stay informed about H1N1 Flu?
The severity of the 2009 flu season could change rapidly and local public health recommendations could be revised quickly. Monitor updates that will be posted on UCSF Today and Occupational Health Program website.