Influenza Flu (H1N1)

Description
  • Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness.
  • There are two types of influenza viruses, Type A and Type B.
Location
  • The flu is common across the United States and worldwide.
  • Peak flu season is during the winter between December and February. Cases are known to be present from October to May.
Cause
  • Type A is found primarily in wild birds like ducks. Other animals that carry Type A are chickens, pigs, and horses.
  • Type B is transmitted from person to person.  Avian Flu is a disease transmitted by wild birds and can infect domestic animals and livestock.
  • It is rare for this virus to infect humans; however, there have been cases reported.  Type B influenza is airborne and can be spread from up to 6 feet away.
Symptoms


Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • Body and head aches
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Fatigue

Symptoms in animals, especially pigs, are similar to those that humans experience.  Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur but is more common in children.

Treatment
  • Prescription antiviral drugs are used to treat the flu illness. Antivirals are different from antibiotics; they fight against bacterial infections in the body.
Prevention
  • Prevention for Type B starts with getting the flu vaccination. Some will argue the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
  • Antiviral drugs are used secondary once symptoms have occurred. These antiviral medications will help reduce symptoms by a few days and can also be used to treat pneumonia.  Prevention for Type A is to avoid exposure with infected animals or dead poultry.
  • The seasonal flu vaccine will not prevent Type A influenza; however, it can help with co-infection with Type A influenza. To avoid Type B influenza, stay away from people that are sick and who are coughing, and sneezing.
Handling
Animals    
  • Those that handle poultry have a higher risk of getting Type A influenza. It is recommended that certain control tactics be practiced.
  • Examples are protective equipment and washing hands often and thoroughly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has guidance for disease control.
Other Facts
  • If you have the flu, you could potentially infect others as early as 1 day before you start to see symptoms.
  • Children and those with weak immune systems should take extra precaution, especially during flu season.