Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is the new influenza A (H1N1) virus, How does it spread, What should we do from getting infected

What is the new influenza A (H1N1) virus that has been causing recent outbreaks globally?

The recent outbreaks of disease in people globally are caused by a new influenza (or “flu”) type A (H1N1) virus. There is a human H5N1 virus circulating and causing seasonal influenza and in the past, very occasionally, H1N1 viruses from swine have infected humans. The specific type of the H1N1 virus causing illness now is new or “novel” and in the current outbreak it is clear that this virus is able to infect humans and be passed from person to person. Although part of the virus may have originated from pigs, there is no evidence that the current spread of infection is coming from that source.

How does the influenza A (H1N1) virus spread?

Spread of this new virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What should I do to keep from getting infected by the influenza A (H1N1) virus?

First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Having knowledge on the said virus and knowing preventive measures to avoid it will keep us away from the dreaded influenza virus.


Caroline Vaughan, Ed.D., OHRM, vaughan@un.org
and Esther Tan, M.D., OHRM tan2@un.org

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