The 2009 novel H1N1 influenza virus (initially and inaccurately referred to as "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness in people around the world. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States and Mexico in April 2009. The 2009 novel H1N1 is spreading from person to person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009 novel H1N1 flu was underway—the word "pandemic" meaning that the flu is spreading simultaneously in multiple countries around the world. The 2009 novel H1N1 flu is already widespread across the nation, including New York, along with cases of what is called "seasonal" flu (although as of this date we are not yet seeing significant seasonal flu yet in this area).
Stony Brook Medicine is providing this information to the public on how to prevent illness with the 2009 novel H1N1 flu, as well as seasonal flu, because prevention is the single best way to stay healthy and slow the spread of flu viruses.
Information on this Web site has been obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health.
Updated: Nov. 9, 2009
Check back here frequently. We will be updating our information as it is received.
Much is known about the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza, and we are learning more every day. At the same time, new questions arise with regularity. In this section we will attempt to gather in one place the answers to the questions we are hearing most often about the flu. View latest frequently asked questions.
Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stay home, avoid contact with others, and drink plenty of fluids. These are typical symptoms of both the seasonal flu and 2009 novel H1N1 influenza.
If any of these symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop, or your fever goes away and then returns, contact your personal physician right away.
The following high-risk persons should seek medical attention or guidance from their personal physician as soon as they develop any of the above symptoms:
If you do come to the Emergency Department or Outpatient Clinic areas to be seen as a patient and you are experiencing these symptoms, please make sure you identify yourself as being ill with influenza-like illness. You will be asked to wear a mask (unless you cannot tolerate it because of your symptoms) in order to reduce the spread of infection and further protect you from contracting any other infection.
If you do have flu-like symptoms, talk to your doctor about possible treatment with antivirals. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, or an inhaler) that can be used for treatment or, in certain circumstances, prevention of flu viruses. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. Antivirals can also reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others. Two types of antivirals, Oseltamivir (TAMIFLU®) and Zanamivir (RELENZA®) are currently effective against the 2009 H1N1 flu. For more information on medications and antivirals, click here.
We take the health of our patients, our employees, and the community very seriously. There are "Keep It Clean!" stations installed
throughout our Hospital facilities where anyone can get sanitizing wipes, tissues, hand hygiene products, and "Toss it!" bags for used wipes and
tissues—all of which will help reduce the spread of viral and bacterial infections, including influenza.
NOTE: Current studies indicate that the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. However, once vaccine demand among younger age groups has been met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people 65 or older, as well as people ages 25 to 64.
Nationwide, the 2009 novel H1N1 vaccination has begun but initial supplies are limited. More doses are expected for shipment each week. We ask members of the public who want to receive this vaccine to be patient as more vaccine becomes available. While we expect that there will eventually be enough vaccine available for anyone who wishes to receive it, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also made recommendations regarding which people within the groups listed above should receive the first available doses. For more information see the CDC press release CDC Advisors Make Recommendations for Use of Vaccine Against Novel H1N1.
About the CDC: The CDC is one of the major operating components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC's mission is to collaborate to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health—through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats. The CDC seeks to accomplish its mission by working with partners throughout the nation and the world to monitor health, detect and investigate health problems, conduct research to enhance prevention, develop and advocate sound public health policies, implement prevention strategies, promote healthy behaviors, foster safe and healthful environments, and provide leadership and training.
With the 2009 novel H1N1 virus continuing to cause illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. during the normally flu-free summer months, and some uncertainty about what the upcoming seasonal flu season might bring, the ACIP met July 29, 2009, to make recommendations on who should receive the 2009 novel H1N1 vaccine. While some issues are still unknown, such as how severe the flu season will be, the ACIP considered several factors, including current disease patterns, populations most at-risk for severe illness based on current trends in illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, how much vaccine is anticipated, and the timing of vaccine availability. The 2009 novel H1N1 vaccination recommendations are described above and are also available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr58e0821a1.htm.
About Vaccine Safety: The 2009 novel H1N1 influenza vaccine is expected to have a similar safety profile as seasonal flu vaccines, which have a very good safety track record. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines.
The CDC expects that any serious side effects following vaccination with the 2009 novel H1N1 influenza vaccine would be rare. If side effects occur, they will likely be similar to common ones experienced following seasonal influenza vaccine. Mild problems that may be experienced include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fainting (mainly adolescents), headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1 to 2 days.
Life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it is usually very shortly after the shot is given. If any unusual condition occurs following vaccination, seek medical attention right away.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be closely monitoring for any signs that the vaccine is causing unexpected adverse events, and we will work with state and local health officials to investigate any unusual events occurring here.
What is 2009 novel H1N1 flu? The 2009 novel H1N1 flu is a new kind of influenza virus that was seen for the first time in the United States in April 2009. Health officials initially called it "swine flu" because it looked similar to some flu viruses of pigs. However, further study showed that 2009 novel H1N1 flu contains a combination of flu virus genes found in some humans and birds, as well as pigs.
Is 2009 novel H1N1 flu the same as the flu that pigs get? No. The swine flu that pigs get is a respiratory disease caused by a different influenza virus. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, although sometimes people who work or live around pigs can get it. Very rarely, people with swine flu can spread it to others.
What do these other flu names mean? You may hear or see 2009 novel H1N1 flu called "2009 H1N1 flu," "novel H1N1 flu," or "pandemic (H1N1) 2009." These all refer to the same H1N1 flu. There is also a fully "human" H1N1, which is common during our usual flu season and which is covered by the seasonal flu vaccine.
Is 2009 novel H1N1 flu the same as seasonal flu? No. Some differences between seasonal flu and novel H1N1 flu are:
www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/influenza/h1n1/: This has excellent information for patients and a good question and answer section. It has information for health providers as well.
www.cdc.gov/Features/Flu/: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site on flu information has a large array of information on seasonal flu as well as 2009 novel H1N1. It includes flu symptoms, who should be vaccinated, etc.
www.flu.gov/: This is a Web site put together from multiple government sources that has a very comprehensive guide to flu prevention, treatment, vaccination, etc.
www.flu.gov/myths/index.html: View this website and learn what is fact and fiction about the flu.
stonybrook.edu/flu/: This Web site is designed to answer the questions of students, families, faculty, and staff about Stony Brook University's proactive response to the H1N1 Virus.
2009 novel H1N1 will be in the news for many weeks to come. Not all coverage is thorough or accurate, so you should be cautious about using news coverage alone as a dependable source for medical information. Always make sure you check out what you see, hear, or read with any of the official sources on this Web site, or your own physician.
Below are links to some of the recent coverage that may be informative and helpful to you.
This Fox News site contains a thorough compilation of current H1N1 news and information.
This is the story on 2009 H1N1 that appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on October 18, 2009. It is informative.
This site contains an excellent 3 minute video of CDC's Dr. Joe Bresee discussing H1N1.