PATIENT INFORMATION SHEET What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu (influenza) in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhoea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported due to swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of any underlying chronic medical conditions.
What should I do if I get sick with influenza symptoms?
If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Wash your hands regularly, dispose of used tissues, and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. It may be appropriate to wear a surgical mask so as to prevent spread to your family or people living with you.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
This virus appears to be sensitive to oseltamivir (TamiFlu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®). Treatment with these antiviral medications may be considered in confirmed cases or if you have been exposed to someone who has been confirmed as having swine flu
Can I take an antiviral to prevent swine flu?
All antivirals have side effects. You only need to have antivirals if you have been exposed or if there is a high risk of exposure to swine flu and only when recommended by your doctor. For example if you have had close contact with a confirmed case (within a distance of one metre). You should only take antivirals when recommended by your doctor.
Does the regular flu shot protect me from swine flu?
No, but all those who are normally recommended for a flu shot should still receive it.
How long would I be infectious for?
People with swine influenza virus should be considered potentially infectious for as long as they have symptoms of flu and possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might be infectious for longer periods.
What can I do to protect myself from getting swine flu?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or
sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhoea, you should:
ring your general practice for advice BEFORE attending the clinic let the receptionist know your concerns. This is necessary to prevent possible
exposure of other patients and staff when you attend the practice.
Your general practice will decide the appropriate action, based on your likely exposure. The GP can then confirm whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or troubled breathing Bluish skin colour Not drinking enough fluids Not waking up or not interacting Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen Sudden dizziness Confusion Severe or persistent vomiting
The Department of Health and Ageing has established a new, national hotline for the public to receive health information about the outbreak overseas of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza). The number is 1802007. Useful links:
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
The Department of Health and Ageing
The Victorian Department of Human Services
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