Preparing for H1N1 Flu Virus

MPTV has compiled a list of resources about the H1N1 virus. Below you will find a full-hour video presentation of the Here and Now special on the virus, Sesame Street clips made especially for children, information on where to get H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccinations, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.

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Preparing for H1N1 Flu Virus and Seasonal Flu

Click here to find information on flu clinics available in your area for H1N1 and Seasonal Flu.

Click here to contact your local public health department, and for information on when H1N1 vaccinations will be available in your area.

Second Opinion: H1N1 Special Edition

Secrets of the Dead: Killer Flu

Here & Now: Preparing for H1N1 Flu Virus

Dr. Nasia Safdar and state epidemiologist Jeff Davis answer viewers' questions. Educational specialist Sue Todey discusses the strategy she has suggested for classrooms throughout the state to avoid spreading the virus.

Milwaukee Public Health Commissioner Bevan Baker explains methods for coping with this type of influenza, which has infected more people in Milwaukee than any other city in the state.

This program was previously recorded. The toll-free number for submitting questions is no longer valid.

Elmo and Rosita sing a song to teach kids to sneeze into their elbow.

(English and Spanish)

Seasonal Influenza vs. 2009 H1N1 Influenza

From the American Medical Association

What is the difference between seasonal influenza and the H1N1 flu?
Seasonal influenza is caused by viruses that have been interacting with humans for many generations. The human immune system is able to mount a quick immune response when encountering the same seasonal strain(s) again. The new 2009 H1N1 influenza, (formerly known as swine flu) emerged in the spring of 2009. Because humans have never been infected with this strain of the influenza virus, the immune system often cannot react as quickly or effectively as it can with familiar viruses.

While seasonal influenza is most threatening to those with weak immune systems, such as the very young and old, the 2009 H1N1 virus appears to be a threat to healthy, young adults, children and pregnant women. Although the populations most affected differ, the symptoms of seasonal and H1N1 influenza are very similar and can only be distinguished by a medical professional.

Important note about vaccines
The seasonal influenza vaccine will not protect against H1N1 influenza. An H1N1 influenza vaccine has been developed, and was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is expected to be available in mid-October.

The AMA recommends that you receive both the seasonal influenza vaccine and 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine as soon as they are available.

H1N1 Flu (swine flu) FAQ from the American Lung Association

What is H1N1 Flu?
H1N1 Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. 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.

How is it spread?
Human infection with flu viruses from pigs most likely to occur from close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu in people, which is mainly through the coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Can I get H1N1 flu by eating pork?
No. You cannot contract H1N1 Flu by eating pork.

Will my flu shot protect me from swine flu?
No, the vaccine formulated for the 2008-2009 flu season was not developed for H1N1 Flu.

What are the symptoms of H1N1 Flu?
The symptoms of H1N1 Flu in people are similar to those of regular human seasonal influenza. They include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, and aches and pains.

What should you do if you have symptoms?
If you get mild flu symptoms, stay home to heal more quickly and prevent spread to others. If you get more severe flu symptoms, contact a health care provider. If you get flu symptoms and have had contact with someone who has recently arrived from Mexico, contact a health care provider.

How can I prevent getting or spreading swine flu?
Swine flu is a lung disease which affects the whole body. It is contracted mainly by breathing in the virus on droplets from cough. The steps you take to help protect yourself, and prevent its spread are the same steps you would take to prevent the spread of regular seasonal flu:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

For more on how to prevent the flu, visit our Flu and Cold Survival Guide.

Should I wear a face mask?
Ordinary face masks are not likely to provide significant protection and are currently not recommended in the US. In the event of widespread infection in a given area this recommendation might change. The American Lung Association suggests that people follow the advice of local authorities.

Prevention and Treatment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This season, there is a seasonal flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu viruses and a 2009 H1N1 vaccine to protect against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (sometimes called “swine flu”). A flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu infection.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick. Other important actions that you can take are:

Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs * (for when soap and water are not available), tissues and other related items could help you to avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

If I have a family member at home who is sick with 2009 H1N1 flu, should I go to work?
Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with 2009 H1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including covering their coughs and sneezes and washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand rub.* If they become ill, they should notify their supervisor and stay home. Employees who have an underlying medical condition or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice, because they might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs. For more information please see General Business and Workplace Guidance for the Prevention of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Flu in Workers.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. CDC recommends that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.* You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?
For information about what to do if you get sick with flu-like symptoms this season, see What To Do If You Get Sick: 2009 H1N1 and Seasonal Flu. A downloadable flyer containing this information also is available at

What are “emergency warning signs” that should signal anyone to seek medical care urgently?

In children:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash

In adults:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Severe or persistent vomiting

Contamination & Cleaning

How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time.

What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

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 2009 H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes.

For additional information, visit the following websites:

H1N1 Flu Map

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