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To Get a Flu Shot or Not Get A Flu Shot: How to Protect Yourself from the H1N1 Flu Virus

Submitted by

Anna Smith

Springfield Hospital

This year, with the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus, the flu season that generally lasts from October through May never really ended. H1N1 infections were first identified in April of 2009 in the United States and Mexico as seasonal influenza infections were beginning to ebb.

Since then the virus has traveled around the globe and is now making an encore appearance in the United States, hand and hand with the old faithful seasonal influenza.

As the season continues, it can be expected that more influenza-type illness than usual will occur due to the fact that many people have not been vaccinated against, or had prior exposure to, the new H1N1.

Fortunately, the severity of illness caused by H1N1 does not appear to have increased. Most people infected with H1N1 have symptoms similar to seasonal influenza. Though these symptoms are in no way pleasant, they are well tolerated by most healthy people.

SYMPTOMS OF H1N1

• Onset can be quite rapid

• Fever (usually high)

• Dry cough

• Headache

• Tiredness and weakness (can be extreme)

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Body or muscle aches

• Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (much more common among children than adults)

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

According to the CDC, H1N1 is thought to spread the same way as seasonal influenza. Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes, people may become infected by touching something, such as a surface or object with flu viruses on it, and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.

To protect yourself:

• Get enough rest and eat right.

• Wash you hands with soap and water often; or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

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