The H1N1 flu virus – also known as human swine influenza is a respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat and lungs. This virus usually affects pigs, but has been transferred to humans. The H1N1 flu virus has caused primarily mild illness in Canada, but Canadians need to be prepared to respond to a potentially more severe form of the virus that may emerge this fall.
* Wash hands often
* Keep common surfaces disinfected
* Cough and sneeze into your arm, instead of your hand
* If you are sick, stay home until your symptoms are gone and you feel well enough to participate in all activities
* If you get flu-like symptoms and are pregnant, have underlying health problems or if your symptoms get worse, contac your health care provider.
Make preparations to care for yourself and your loved ones. Make sure you have the following items on hand:
* Pain and fever medication, like Tylenol or Advil, to treat fever and headaches
* A thermometer
* Extra supplies of any essential medication, like insulin for diabetics
* Cleaning supplies, like household disinfectant,
* Soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep hands clean
* Non perishable food, like canned soup and fruits and vegetables and liquids, like water and juice, in case you can’t get to the grocery store,
If you get flu-like symptoms and are pregnant or have underlying health problems contact your healthcare provider.
If you get flu-like symptoms and are otherwise healthy, you should stay home to recover. If your symptoms worsen or you experience difficulty breathing or serious shortness of breath, it is important to seek medical attention.
Antivirals are drugs used for the early treatment of influenza. If taken shortly after getting sick (within 48 hours), they can reduce influenza symptoms, shorten the length of illness and potentially reduce the serious complications of influenza. Antivirals do not prevent you from getting sick.
Canada has a National Antiviral Stockpile of 55 million doses of two antiviral drugs – Tamiflu and Relenza. Both are effective in treating H1N1 flu virus. This stockpile is enough for all Canadians who will need and want treatment.
Antivirals are recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe illness, and for people at risk of severe disease. Your doctor will decide if treatment is right for you.
Influenza vaccines (also called flu shots) help you to prevent getting sick by introducing your body to a weakened or dead version of the virus to teach your body to build immunity to it.
This year, there will be vaccines for both types of flu – one for the regular seasonal influenza, and one for the H1N1 flu virus.
Canada has a contract in place with GlaxoSmithKline to produce 50.4 million doses of H1N1 flu virus vaccine. This is enough vaccine for all Canadians who need and want protection.
The vaccine is expected to be available in November 2009. Once the vaccine is approved for use, the Government of Canada will make recommendations on how many doses will be required.