Be prepared, know H1N1 prevention and symptoms

ARLINGTON, Va. -- A global pandemic of H1N1 influenza is underway. More than 70 countries have reported cases. All 50 of the states in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands have reported H1N1. Outbreaks are ongoing and in some cases with intense activity. H1N1 in conjunction with seasonal influenza poses the potential to cause significant illness. 

Although most who have become ill with H1N1 have recovered without significant medical care, it is anticipated, more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths associated with this pandemic will occur. 

H1N1 is a new flu virus that first caused illness in Spring 2009. H1N1 flu spreads like seasonal influenza, mainly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus, but it may also spread by touching your nose to mouth, 

H1N1 infection has been reported to cause a wide range of flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some have also reported nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. 

It is important for all to recognize their risk for exposure, understand what symptoms prompt medical attention and taking appropriate measures to mitigate infecting others.

Preventative Measures
- Wash hands often with warm water and soap, especially after you cough or sneeze -- alcohol based hand cleansers are also effective.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use crook of elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Discard used tissues.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth -- germs spread this way.
- Clean surfaces of tables, desks, door knobs, keyboards, and phones.
- Get adequate rest and eat well to help your body fight off infection.
- Follow public health advice regarding social distancing.

Response Measures
Individuals have an important role in protecting themselves and their families.
- Seek attention from a health care provider if you develop a fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Limit contact with others if you are sick with flu-like symptoms.
- Stay home for at least 7-days after illness onset or until you have been symptom free for 24 hours, whichever is the greater period of time, except to seek medical care. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus.

Obtain your seasonal influenza vaccine as soon as it is available to you unless advised otherwise by your health care provider. 

Vaccination will be an important countermeasure to both seasonal and H1N1 influenza. Efforts are underway to produce a safe and effective H1N1 vaccine. 

Further information regarding DoD, state and local efforts in planning for and executing an H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign will be forthcoming.

Use your Health Care Provider, Chain of Command, and these Web sites as sources of information: