About H1N1: Treating and Preventing H1N1 Influenza
There is a vaccine against H1N1 flu that is available to all Canadians who want to be vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or local public health office about how to get the H1N1 vaccine. There are also medications available to help in the prevention and treatment of H1N1 flu. These are called antiviral medications. There are 2 classes available: M2 inhibitors (e.g., amantadine*) and neuraminidase inhibitors (e.g., oseltamivir, zanamivir).
Most people with previously reported H1N1 flu have been able to recover fully without medical attention and without antiviral medications. However, recent outbreaks indicate that treatment with antivirals may be needed, especially for people who have moderate-to-severe symptoms and for people who are at risk for complications of influenza (e.g., people with underlying medical conditions).
For people who are sick, help yourself get better and prevent the spread of the virus by doing the following:
- Stay at home if you are sick. Do not go to work or school.
- Stay at least 1 metre away from other people.
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw your used tissue in the garbage. If you do not have tissue available, cover with your sleeve or hands. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Make sure to wash your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don't have access to soap and water.
There are ways to protect yourself from catching the H1N1 flu virus. People who are travelling in areas where an H1N1 flu virus outbreak has occurred need to take special precautions to reduce the chance of exposure to the H1N1 flu virus. Here are some tips to prevent flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and who have symptoms of H1N1 flu (e.g., fever, cough).
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly. To ensure proper sanitization, you should wash your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds. Use alcohol-based sanitizers if handwashing is not convenient.
- Practise good health habits such as getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and staying physically active.
- Talk to your doctor about whether an annual influenza (flu shot) is right for you.