Influenza Flu (H1N1)


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.

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.

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 include, fever, couching, sore throat, runny and stuffy nose, body and head aches, chills, sweats, and 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.

Prescription antiviral drugs are used to treat the flu illness. Antivirals are different from antibiotics; they fight against bacterial infections in the body.

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.

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 syste should take extra precaution, especially during flu season.