Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a global pandemic of novel influenza A (H1N1) was underway by raising the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6. This action was a reflection of the spread of the new H1N1 virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus. Although most flu symptoms are mild and last only a few days without treatment, health officials worldwide are concerned because the virus is new and could easily mutate and become more virulent.
How Flu Spreads
Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. They usually spread from close person-to-person contact, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live for as long as two hours on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables.
Healthy adults, infected with the virus, may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against novel H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
Hand washing may be your single most important act to help stop the spread of infection and stay healthy
Click on the soap
Other important actions that you can take are:
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.
If your job involves being in areas and situations which involve persons with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection or influenza-like illness, follow the guidelines listed in the Davidson College Personel Protection Equipment for Influenza Outbreak policy.
Additional information and answers to questions about the flu can be found at:
Davidson College Student Health Services Web Site
Centers For Disease Control