The Comprehensive H1N1Guide

Flu season typically hits higher education hard, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic further confirms the importance of knowing how to protect your health when viruses threaten to drag you down.

So unless you like the prospect of getting quarantined in a self-isolation facility read and learn. Then wash your hands.

H1N1 Flu Facts

  • Characteristics of seasonal flu strains vary, so a different flu vaccine is developed each year. The first cases of human infections caused by a novel influenza virus called “swine flu” or H1N1 were detected in the spring of 2009. The first H1N1 vaccines were released in the fall of 2009
    (findaflushot.com ).
  • Every year in the United States an average of 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die from seasonal flu complications (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Most people who get the flu (either seasonal or 2009 H1N1) will kick it in under two weeks without the help of medical care or antiviral drugs. Some people, however, are more likely to contract the flu and to suffer more serious flu-related complications. Find out if you’re susceptible because of any risk factors.
  • Vaccine experts voted in February of 2010 to recommend that everyone over 6 months should get a flu vaccine next season. This “universal” flu vaccination will expand protection against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus as well as two other flu viruses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • According to a March 2010 study, a significant difference between seasonal flu and H1N1 is significant amount of life-years lost. Unlike seasonal flu, which typically causes deaths in people over the age of 65, H1N1 disproportionately claims the lives of children and young adults (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy).
  • It is possible for infected people to be contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick (National Library of Medicine).

Resources for Staying Flu-Free

Use these resources to ensure your flu-season preparedness: learn the facts, get immunized, and make sure you’re aware of your school’s absence policy.

National and International Health Sites

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource for information on prevention, risk factors, and what to do if you get sick. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions (asthma, heart disease, diabetes, etc.), and those who interact with small children should take special care to avoid getting the flu.
  • Flu.gov provides a checklist that will help you prepare in advance in case you become contagious and need to stay in your home or dorm room.
  • The World Health Organization has compiled a helpful list of H1N1 FAQs explaining the vaccines, antiviral drugs, and what you should know about the global pandemic including advice on using masks during outbreaks in community settings.
  • International SOS provides information about pandemic preparedness and H1N1 international travel advice.
  • The American Psychological Association offers tips for managing your anxiety about H1N1.

University Sites

  • Carnegie Mellon provides students with easy-to-use charts that will help you make sense of and manage your cold and flu symptoms.
  • Princeton University maintains updated and in-depth H1N1 FAQ pages.
  • The University of Denver has compiled helpful resources on prevention and what you need to know about transmission and exposure.
  • Loyola Marymount University offers a useful flu preparedness checklist and tips to promote healthy living.
  • Ohio University has posted an informative H1N1 health alert. Their website also includes resources on meningitis and other health issues relevant to those in a campus setting.
  • UC Berkeley provides instructive self care guidelines in the event that you get the flu.

Interactive and Multimedia Resources

  • This handy H1N1 self-evaluation tool developed by Flu.gov will help you assess the severity of your symptoms. They also have created a number of social media tools to help you and your friends stay informed during flu season.
  • The National Library of Medicine’s H1N1 tutorial discusses symptoms, treatment options, and prevention tips in a straightforward way. Their slideshow also includes true and false quiz questions to reinforce the material.
  • If you’re looking for a little levity, check out this “Talkin’ bout the Flu” music video. Complete with covering-your-sneeze dance moves, this clever re-envisioning of The Dream’s “Walking on the Moon” was created for the Boston Public Health Commission.
  • The CDC’s “Put Your Hands Together” Podcast will teach you everything you need to know about preventing infection through proper hand hygiene.
  • Use this Flu Tracker to keep tabs on the spread of the global pandemic.
  • Stay apprised of the latest H1N1 news with Reuter’s swine flu newsfeed.

Resources for Educators

Stop Spreading Germs

And every time you hear someone hacking in class, you can remember these common-sense prevention strategies using this mnemonic device developed by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – use your sleeve
  • Only use your own glass and utensils – don’t share
  • Use soap and warm water to wash hands often
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet
  • Home is where you belong when you’re sick, not at work or school