Michigan Department of Community Health Offers Tips to Prevent the H1N1 Influenza Virus

Contact: James McCurtis, Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

October 22, 2009

During the last few days, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has seen a significant increase in the number of H1N1 flu cases throughout the state. Increases in absenteeism related to this illness have led numerous school districts to suspend school activities.

Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, runny nose, tiredness, and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting. MDCH urges people who become ill to stay home from work or school until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications.

Most children and adults who are in generally good health and experiencing mild symptoms will recover from the flu - without needing to visit a health care provider. However, some people - especially pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions - should contact their health care provider to discuss the need for early treatment. Antiviral drugs are not needed for everyone. Antiviral drugs should be used to treat people with serious infections requiring hospitalization and those at high risk for complications.

While the H1N1 flu is relatively mild in most cases, it can cause serious illness and complications. If children experience any of the following, seek medical attention immediately:

- Fast breathing or trouble breathing

- Bluish or gray skin color

- Not drinking enough fluids

- Severe or persistent vomiting

- Not waking up or not interacting

- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

- Flu-like symptoms improve but return with fever and worse cough

In adults, these symptoms indicate urgent medical attention is needed:

- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

- Sudden dizziness

- Confusion

There also are several steps people can take on a daily basis to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as the flu:

- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Of course, one of the most effective prevention measures is to get vaccinated. While production delays have slowed the shipments of H1N1 vaccine, they are arriving daily in Michigan. The MDCH encourages people to check with their health care provider or local health department regarding vaccine availability.

For up-to-date H1N1 information and resources, people can visit Michigan's flu Web site at www.michigan.gov/flu, or contact their health care provider or local health department.