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What is H1N1?

H1NI flu is a new type of flu. It first appeared early in 2009 in Mexico. In the early days of the pandemic, H1N1 flu was sometimes called swine flu. This is because the genetic makeup of the virus includes several genes found in a form of influenza which affects pigs (swine). So far, H1N1 flu does not seem any more dangerous than the seasonal flues which affect millions of people around the world every year. However, since it is a new type of flu, we are still learning how it affects people and how best to prevent it. The seasonal flu vaccine will probably not protect against H1N1 flu. This year’s vaccine was already under development when the new type of flu appeared. However, a special H1N1 vaccine is in production and should be available later this fall. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu can cause severe illness in some people. For reasons we don’t yet completely understand, people in certain groups seem to be at higher risk of complications from H1N1 flu than from seasonal flu. Groups at higher risk are:
  • Children under two
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chromic health concerns (e.g. diabetes, congestive heart disease, etc.)
  • People over 65

Symptoms of H1N1 Flu

Important note about infants

Infants under three months of age with fever should receive IMMEDIATE medical attention.

Typical symptoms of H1N1 flu:
  • Fever (temperature over 38C (100F) that comes on quickly)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or nausea (in some cases)
What should I do? People experiencing these symptoms who are NOT in a high-risk group should stay home and rest for at least 24 hours after their fever ends. People who ARE in a high risk group (i.e. under two years of age, pregnant, people with chronic health concerns, elderly) should visit a community physician/general practitioner or a CLSC. Symptoms requiring medical attention: Fever AND one of more of these symptoms:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Vomiting for more than four hours
  • Abnormal lack of activity (in a child)
What should I do? Anyone with fever AND one or more of the above symptoms should visit a community physician/general practitioner or a CLSC as soon as possible. Emergency symptoms: Fever AND one of more of these symptoms:
  • Increasing difficulty in breathing
  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Difficulty moving
  • Severe stiffness in neck
  • Severe vomiting
  • Drowsiness, confusion, disorientation
  • Convulsions
  • Inability to urinate for more than 12 hours
What should I do? Anyone with fever AND one or more of these emergency symptoms should visit an Emergency Room immediately. Call 911 if necessary. If you are concerned about your health or the health of a loved one, you can call the Info-Santé health hotline 8-1-1. A nurse will answer your call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.