H1N1 Flu-Are We Still Dealing With It?

There is some good and bad news about the flu virus that hit the world by storm in 2009. The good news is that the World Health Organization (WHO)declared an end to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic which during the 2009-2010 flu season caused more illness in young people and pregnant women than is usual for prior flu seasons. The bad news is that the H1N1 influenza virus which caused the 2009 pandemic continues to circulate in some parts of the world including the United States, causing variable levels of disease and outbreaks.

According to the U.S. Government, in the United States, the flu season is typically from fall through early spring. The peak of the season occurs anytime from late November through March. The overall impact such as infections, hospitalizations, and death of a flu season varies from year to year.

On Average Each Year in the United States

According to the U.S. Government:

  • 5-20 percent of the population get the flu each year
  • Each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications
  • Deaths from flu-related causes range from 3,300 to 48,600 (average 23,600) annually

Know the Symptoms-Don't be the One!

Difference Between a Cold, Seasonal and H1N1 Flu

It’s important for people to recognize the symptoms of the flu and a cold and take appropriate measures to prevent, and if ill, treat the symptoms.

Symptoms such as fever, coughing, aches, stuffy nose, chills, tiredness, sneezing sudden symptoms, headache, sore throat, and chest discomfort will vary between a cold, seasonal flu, and H1N1.

Typically the following can be used as a guide:

Symptom for a Cold, Seasonal Flu, and H1N1 Flu

Fever: Rare with a cold, Typical with seasonal and Present in up to 80% of H1N1 cases

Coughing :Often present with a cold, Often a dry cough with seasonal flu & a dry cough* in H1N1

Aches : Cold: Slight body aches, Seasonal: Headaches/body aches, H1N1: Headaches/body aches*

Stuffy Nose: Common in a cold, Not commonly present in Seasonal and H1N1 Flu

Chills: Uncommon in a cold, Common in seasonal flu and present in up to 60% of people with H1N1 flu

Tiredness: Fairly mild in a cold, Moderate to severe in both seasonal and H1N1 Flu

*May be more severe than the seasonal flu

Treatment

Whether you or your family members are hit with a cold or flu, it is important to treat each symptom and seek medical attention when symptoms appear extreme. It is also important to consult medical advice when the flu strikes young children, pregnant women or the elderly as these groups tend to experience the most severe symptoms and often need medical treatment that can include hospitalization.

The World Wide Health Organization recommends vaccination for individuals in high-risk groups such as those mentioned above as vaccination remains an important means of reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by influenza viruses. Additionally, being aware of the symptoms, and locations of where outbreaks are occurring coupled with good hygiene (especially hand washing) will help curb the spread of the viruses.

One way to stay current with where the flu virus is striking is to check with your local health organization. In the United States, the government publishes a map weekly showing where influenza is striking. Check out the U.S. Fluview map and see the latest outbreak. The World Health Organization can point to outbreaks outside of the United States.

Even though the H1N1 (Swine Flu) is no longer making headlines, it has settled into the lineup of seasonal flu’s and needs to remain on our minds. When we are armed with information and ways to prevent and/or deal with it we are able to take action should it strike in our own homes.

Stay Healthy America!

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