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How long does the virus last on paper and other surfaces?

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface. 


How is H1N1 flu transmitted?  I heard that it is not airborne, but today I saw a news article which said the CDC had not yet determined whether it was spread by air or contact.

Spread of this H1N1 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 by people with influenza. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. 


What do I need to right now, if anything, to be prepared?

The CDC recommends that you buy and store at least two weeks’ supply of food and water for your family and pets.  Make sure you have basic over-the-counter health supplies like thermometers, tissues, soap, hand sanitizers, cold medications and fever reducers, and stomach remedies.  Teach yourself and your children the importance of hand washing and appropriate ways of sneezing and coughing. 


I have heard that some groups will be given priority for the H1N1 vaccine when it is developed.  Who are they?

On July 29, 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—an advisory committee to CDC—recommended that novel H1N1 flu vaccine be made available first to the following five groups:

  • Pregnant women
  • Health care workers and emergency medical responders
  • People caring for infants under 6 months of age
  • Children and young adults from 6 months to 24 years
  • People aged 25 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes)

Combined, these groups would equal approximately 159 million individuals.


Do people still need to receive the “regular” flu vaccine this fall?

The Florida Department of Health recommends getting the regular shot due to the fact that the “regular” virus most likely will continue to spread as it normally does

Are there any allergy or other alerts with the H1N1 vaccine?  I know that in years past, those who were allergic to, for example, eggs were advised not to take the flu shot.

Talk to your doctor or nurse before getting any flu shot if you:

  • Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs;
  • Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu shot; or
  • Have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

If you are sick with a fever when you go to get your flu shot, talk to your doctor or nurse about getting your shot at a later date. However, you can get a flu shot if you have a respiratory (breathing) illness without a fever; or if you have another mild illness.


From the time a person is first exposed, what is the time period for onset of symptoms?

The typical incubation period (interval between infection and onset of symptoms) for influenza is approximately 2 days.


What symptoms would present themselves in the very early stages?

The symptoms are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal flu infection. They include:

  • fever
  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • lack of appetite, and
  • coughing


You should not report to work if you have these symptoms and should leave work voluntarily if they develop after you report for duty.

Is there any type of prescription treatment for this flu? 

Antivirals (brand-named Tamiflu and Relenza) are drugs that can treat people who have already been infected by a virus.  They also can be used to prevent infection when given before or shortly after exposure and before illness occurs.  A key difference between a vaccine and antiviral drug is that the antiviral drug will prevent infection only when administered within a certain time frame before or after exposure and is effective only during the time that the drug is being taken, while a vaccine can be given long before exposure to the virus and can provide protection over a long period of time.  


Government health officials continue to update their recommendations on the use of antivirals, and they now recommend their use only in the most serious cases. 
For more information see 

Is it correct that people are not contagious 24 hours after their fever is gone?

The CDC believes that to be the case. Keep in mind that this is not true if you are using medications that merely reduce your fever.  A fever means at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius. 


What should people do if they may have been exposed to someone who has a suspected or confirmed case of H1N1 flu?

Merely being in the same room with someone who has H1N1 flu does not necessarily mean you have been infected.  The CDC believes that “close contact” is required.  This means having cared for or lived with a person who is a confirmed, probable, or suspected case of influenza, or having been in a setting where there was a high likelihood of contact with respiratory droplets and/or body fluids of such a person. Examples of close contact include sharing eating or drinking utensils, physical examination, or any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets. Close contact typically does not include activities such as walking by an infected person or sitting across from a symptomatic patient in a waiting room or office. 


Even if you believe that you have been exposed, this does not necessarily mean that an active infection will result.  The CDC, for example, believes that only about 20 percent of working adults will become ill during a community outbreak. 

Source:  If you believe you have been exposed, take steps to remain healthy and monitor your condition for flu-like symptoms.

How long does it last?

The CDC believes the virus persists in your body for up to seven days, but the period may be longer in children. 


Are there any extra precautions we should be using now?

First and most important: wash your hands often. 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. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 


The 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.

Community strategies that delay or reduce the impact of a pandemic (also called non-pharmaceutical interventions) may help reduce the spread of disease until a vaccine is available.  This is often called “social distancing,” and it can be helpful in delaying infections until a vaccine is deployed.  The CDC has issued guidelines on actions, designed primarily to reduce contact between people, that community government and health officials can take to try to limit the spread of pandemic flu.  These cover settings as diverse as churches, homeless and emergency shelters, public gatherings, and individual homes. 

You can find them at: ttp://

“Social distancing” can include

  1. holding telephone conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings;
  2. ordering supplies for mail delivery via the Internet rather than in face-to-face interactions;
  3. “attending” meetings by watching them on TV or the Internet; and
  4. using email to communicate and transmit documents. 
    ** The video on this website is an example of social distancing.
Learn – and teach your children – safe ways to cough and sneeze.  This means coughing or sneezing into a tissue if one is available, and throwing the tissue in the trash.  If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow. 


When will vaccinations for H1N1 as well as the “regular” flu be available?

Vaccine for the regular flu already is available from many local pharmacies, though some encourage making an appointment.  Use the American Lung Association’s “Find a Flu Clinic” search to find a pharmacy or clinic near you that can administer the seasonal flu vaccine. 


The vaccine for the new H1N1 flu currently is under development and a working formula is being tested.  It is expected to be available this fall, but a precise date cannot yet be identified.  Further guidelines for the new vaccine may be issued after testing is completed.


Will my health care provider test to confirm that I actually have H1N1?

On July 24, 2009, the CDC stopped requiring that individual H1N1 cases be confirmed and reported.  Check with your health care provider if you believe you should be tested. 


Will wearing a mask protect me?

The CDC does not recommend using masks in most instances.  


How can we protect our children?

The CDC has created special guidelines for parents and child-care providers.  These are detailed and can be located at:

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