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Monday, May 11, 2009

Swine Flu A (H1N1) Virus General FAQ

I know, I know, I'm a little slow. Pretty much everyone who intends to write about the A(H1N1) virus would have written it by now. Unfortunately I had been busy with lots of things lately but hey, this is for my own use as well so it doesn't really matter :P

I'm basically getting these FAQ from the CDC page, but just in case if they ever take down the page for whatever reason, at least I will still have it for my own reference. I will be breaking this FAQ into 2 parts. The first part will be about the characteristics of the virus as well as what is CDC doing about this outbreak, and the second part will more on prevention and treatment as well as contamination and cleaning.

Before I go into the FAQ, here are some useful links:

1. Here is where I get the FAQ from.

2. If you want updates on the virus, you can visit CDC website which will be updated on a regular basis.

3. For local (Malaysia) updates, The Star website does have a Swine Flu Watch, but not sure how often they update it as the last time it was updated was on the 29th April 2009. It does provide some more locally related FAQs.

Anyway, here it is, the FAQ obtained from CDC:

Questions & Answers

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You*

May 8, 2009 12:00 AM ET

Novel H1N1 Flu

What is H1N1 (swine flu)?
H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

H1N1 Influenza virus imageWhy is this new H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?
This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus.

Novel H1N1 Flu in Humans

Are there human infections with this H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
Yes. Cases of human infection with this H1N1 influenza virus were first confirmed in the U.S. in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas. The outbreak intensified rapidly from that time and more and more states have been reporting cases of illness from this virus. An updated case count of confirmed novel H1N1 flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/investigation.htm. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

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

Photo of nurse and childWhat are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of this new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

How severe is illness associated with this new H1N1 virus?
It’s not known at this time how severe this virus will be in the general population. CDC is studying the medical histories of people who have been infected with this virus to determine whether some people may be at greater risk from infection, serious illness or hospitalization from the virus. In seasonal flu, there are certain people that are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with chronic medical conditions. It’s unknown at this time whether certain groups of people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications from infection with this new virus. CDC also is conducting laboratory studies to see if certain people might have natural immunity to this virus, depending on their age.

How does this new H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of this 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 by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, CDC believes that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Exposures Not Thought to Spread New H1N1 Flu

Can I get infected with this new H1N1 virus from eating or preparing pork?
No. H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get this new HIN1 virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Is there a risk from drinking water?
Tap water that has been treated by conventional disinfection processes does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. Current drinking water treatment regulations provide a high degree of protection from viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of the novel H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 would also be similarly inactivated by chlorination. To date, there have been no documented human cases of influenza caused by exposure to influenza-contaminated drinking water.

Can the new H1N1 flu virus be spread through water in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational water venues?
Influenza viruses infect the human upper respiratory tract. There has never been a documented case of influenza virus infection associated with water exposure. Recreational water that has been treated at CDC recommended disinfectant levels does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of the H1N1 influenza virus to chlorine and other disinfectants used in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational venues. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels recommended by CDC (1–3 parts per million [ppm or mg/L] for pools and 2–5 ppm for spas) are adequate to disinfect avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 virus would also be similarly disinfected by chlorine.

Can H1N1 influenza virus be spread at recreational water venues outside of the water?
Yes, recreational water venues are no different than any other group setting. The spread of this novel H1N1 flu 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.

Response & Investigation

What is CDC doing in response to the outbreak?
CDC has implemented its emergency response. The agency’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by the new virus. CDC continues to issue new interim guidance for clinicians and public health professionals. In addition, CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak.

What epidemiological investigations are taking place in response to the recent outbreak?
CDC works very closely with state and local officials in areas where human cases of new H1N1 flu infections have been identified. In California and Texas, where EpiAid teams have been deployed, many epidemiological activities are taking place or planned including:

  • Active surveillance in the counties where infections in humans have been identified;
  • Studies of health care workers who were exposed to patients infected with the virus to see if they became infected;
  • Studies of households and other contacts of people who were confirmed to have been infected to see if they became infected;
  • Study of a public high school where three confirmed human cases of H1N1 flu occurred to see if anyone became infected and how much contact they had with a confirmed case; and
  • Study to see how long a person with the virus infection sheds the virus.

Who is in charge of medicine in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) once it is deployed?
Local health officials have full control of SNS medicine once supplies are deployed to a city, state, or territory. Federal, state, and local community planners are working together to ensure that SNS medicines will be delivered to the affected area as soon as possible. Many cities, states, and territories have already received SNS supplies. After CDC sends medicine to a state or city, control and distribution of the supply is at the discretion of that state or local health department. Most states and cities also have their own medicines that they can access to treat infected persons.

*Note: Much of the information in this document is based on studies and past experience with seasonal (human) influenza. CDC believes the information applies to the new H1N1 (swine) viruses as well, but studies on this virus are ongoing to learn more about its characteristics. This document will be updated as new information becomes available.

For general information about swine influenza (not new H1N1 flu) see Background Information about Swine Influenza.

There you have it. First part of the FAQ. Will post 2nd part asap.

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2 comments:

Terry said...

can the H1N1 virus be detected in a human after the flu symptoms have subsided? And, if so ,for how long? Can't get an answer on this, and I'm a nurse in an office and have been asked this question quite frequently. Frustrating.

cord blood collection said...

Great site about War On Swine Flu,this information really helped me , I really appreciate it,I will visit when ever i have found the stuff That i have been searching for in all the web for, keep up the great work!

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