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H1N1 Information


H1N1 FLU OUTBREAK INFORMATION

Important links from DoD, and Army Medical Command

H1N1 Influenza is a respiratory disease that can affect humans. Prepare for flu outbreaks as you would for all hazards:

    Get a Kit

  • Get an emergency supply kit for your family, to last a minimum of two weeks.
  • Make a Plan

  • Make a family emergency plan, including provision to care for extended family, and include a communication plan to keep in touch.
  • Plan alternative transportation routes to school and work, and consider whether it is possible to work from home.
  • Include key information from your local emergency plans including warning signals, evacuation routes, shelter locations, and points of distribution.
  • Be Informed

  • Learn about the hazard. Following this page is information on swine influenza provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Learn and practice prevention techniques, including good hygiene and social distancing:
    • Wash your hands.Limit direct contact by not shaking hands. Do not share objects with someone who is sick (utensils, remote controls, pens, etc.).Disinfect frequently touched surfaces including door knobs, light switches and toilet handles.Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.Teach your children flu prevention hygiene.If someone in your house is sick you should also stay at home until they no longer feel sick.In general, get vaccinated to boost immunity to flu viruses.
  • In an Emergency Response

  • Be calm�stay informed and follow emergency plans.Practice infection control:
    • Continue to wash your hands and limit direct contact.Telecommute or hold telephone or video conferences.Maintain personal space of at least three feet.Limit exposure to sick people.
  • Quarantine and isolation measures may be used to limit the movement of people who may have been exposed to the disease and separate those infected with the disease.If directed, report to your command using the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System (ADPAAS).

What is H1N1 flu?

H1N1 influenza (H1N1 flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person to person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Are there human infections with H1N1 flu in the United States? In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans, and cases have been reported internationally as well. CDC keeps an updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States (www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm), and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

Is this swine flu virus contagious? CDC has determined that this H1N1 influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

How serious is H1N1 flu infection? Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. From 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of H1N1 flu were detected in the United States, with no deaths occurring. However, H1N1 flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with H1N1 flu and died eight days later. A H1N1 flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.

What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 flu in people? The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with H1N1 flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does H1N1 flu spread? Spread of this H1N1 influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else? Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu? There is no vaccine available right now to protect against H1N1 flu. 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:

  • First and most importantly, wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Wash for at least 15�20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective and can be used if soap and water are not available. You can find these cleaners in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.Try to avoid close contact with sick people.


Are there medicines to treat H1N1 flu? Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these H1N1 influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within two days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread H1N1 flu to others? People with H1N1 influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to seven days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination? Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when people touch respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touch their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body? We know that some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks. Frequent hand-washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What should I do if I get sick? If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health-care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health-care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include the following:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathingBluish skin colorNot drinking enough fluidsNot waking up or not interactingBeing so irritable that the child does not want to be heldFlu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse coughFever with a rash


In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include the following:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breathPain or pressure in the chest or abdomenSudden dizzinessConfusionSevere or persistent vomiting


What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing? If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and put your used tissue in the waste basket. This may prevent those around you from getting sick. if you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your hand, then disinfect your hands as described above.

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork? No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

It's up to you. Prepare strong. Get an emergency supply kit good for at least three days, make an emergency plan with your family, and be informed about what might happen.

FAQs

Is the vaccine Soldiers received in 1976 still good?
The H1N1 Influenza seen in this outbreak has not been previously detected in pigs or humans. The 1976 vaccine was made against a different strain of influenza and would not protect against this one.

What plans do hospitals have
in case of a breakout? Military and civilian hospitals have emergency response plans for mass casualty situations and epidemics. The military health system developed these plans to deal with emerging diseases, such as pandemic influenza, and are coordinated with the civilian system to ensure close cooperation with the civil authorities.

Who is most vulnerable?
Influenza typically is most dangerous for the very old or very young. According to the World Health Organization Web Site, the majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. As more is learned about this particular outbreak, there will be more information on who is most vulnerable to this infection.

Have any Soldiers or other Army patients been infected?
We are aggressively monitoring any soldiers hospitalized for influenza-like illnesses. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza in any soldiers or in any patients in Army hospitals.

What is the Army doing as far as education and prevention?
The Army is working closely with the rest of the Department of Defense and with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a coordinated response to this outbreak.

Will the flu shot provided in Fall 2008 protect people from this strain of influenza?
This H1N1 Influenza strain is different than the human strains that were used in creating the vaccine in 2008. Therefore, we would not expect any protection from the vaccine for this particular strain. The vaccine will protect against the commonly occurring strains of human influenza.

Why do 20 infections constitute an emergency or an epidemic?
This is from the HHS website: The Department of Health and Human Services issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration in response to recent human infections with a newly discovered H1N1 influenza A (H1N1 flu) virus. The formal declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE) is a tool that facilitates HHS� preparation and mobilization for disasters and emergencies. For example, PHEs were recently declared for flooding in North Dakota, the Inauguration, and several 2008 hurricanes.

Today�s declaration, made under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, will help HHS prepare for prevention and mitigation activities by enabling Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations of drugs, devices, or medical tests under certain circumstances.

Specifically, today�s PHE will enable the FDA to review and issue emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the use of certain laboratory tests to help detect the newly discovered strain of influenza and for the emergency use of certain antivirals.

"HHS is taking these steps today to be proactive in responding to this new influenza virus by offering national tools in support of community-led preparedness and response efforts," Acting HHS Secretary Charles Johnson said. "The declaration allows us the flexibility, while we learn more about the virus and its impact in the United States, to take additional steps to fully mobilize our prevention, treatment and mitigation capabilities should those actions become necessary."

In addition to the declaration, HHS leaders are working together across operating divisions to coordinate response to the H1N1 flu outbreak. For example, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to develop a vaccine precursor that could be used to develop a vaccine for this H1N1 flu virus.

Are deployed Service members in danger of infection; what preventive measures are in place across the Army?
Based on the most recent information, deployed service members are at no increased risk of infection. The Army is encouraging everyone to follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on what can be done to stay healthy. These recommendations are:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Is this an epidemic or pandemic and what is the difference?
An outbreak is when there is an increase in the number of cases of a disease above the baseline levels. When there are a large number of cases that constitutes an epidemic. When there are multiple sites around the world of large numbers of cases that is a pandemic. The CDC is currently calling this an epidemic, but both military and civilian experts around the world are monitoring this closely.