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UCSF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM (OHP)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SEASONAL AND H1N1 INFLUENZA

What is H1N1 Flu?
H1N1 flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a new type of A influenza virus first seen in humans in 2009. H1N1 is the primary flu strain circulating in the 2013-2014 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 included in the 2013-2014 seasonal flu vaccine.

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.

How can I protect myself against the Flu?

  • Get your seasonal flu shot.
  • 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?
    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?

  • Stay home from work or school. Go home if you become ill at work or school.
  • 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?
    Antiviral medications are used for treatment and/or prevention of influenza. They are available only by prescription. Due to concern about resistance, the priority use for antiviral medications is treatment of people with severe influenza illness or at risk for complications.

    I have upcoming travel plans. Is there anything I need to do?
    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 2013-2014 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.