Swine flu facts

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The following information on H1N1 is from the Maine Center for Disease Control’s Web site:

How can I catch H1N1?

The virus is typically spread through large-particle respiratory droplets, via sneezes and coughs of an already infected person onto a noninfected person. These droplets can travel only less than 6 feet, however, so close proximity is always a factor. All respiratory secretions and bodily fluids from an infected person should be considered potentially infectious.

What are the symptoms?

Patients with confirmed cases have experienced fever, chills, headache, upper respiratory tract symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, myalgias, athralgias, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea). H1N1 can exacerbate pre-existing and chronic illnesses like respiratory, neurologic or heart conditions.

Who is at high risk for complications?

Children under 5 years old; people 65 years or older; children and adolescents (under 18) receiving long-term aspirin therapy; pregnant women; adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular or metabolic disorders; adults and children who have immunosuppression (including if caused by medications or by HIV); residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.

How long are H1N1 patients contagious?

In general, those affected should consider themselves contagious for seven days after the first symptom. Children should be considered contagious for 10 days after the first symptom.

For additional information on H1N1, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/identifyingpatients.htm.