Swine flu (H1N1), also referred to as pig flu is expected to become more active in the fall, just as seasonal influenza does as well. What symptoms are there? Is there a vaccine for children? These questions and more are being asked by concerned parents.
How can a child catch swine flu (H1N1)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), swine flu is a contagious virus that was originally thought to be the same as one found in pigs. However, the H1N1 strain of pig flu in the most recent outbreaks of 2009 is a mutated version of the virus that is transmitted from person to person. It has not been evidenced that it is being transmitted through pork or pork products.
What are the symptoms of swine flu (H1N1)?
The AAP and the CDC state that symptoms of the 2009 swine flu (H1N1) in children can be mild or serious. They are very similar to symptoms of seasonal influenza. They include nausea, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, chills, irritability and fatigue, sore throat, coughing, and body aches.
More serious symptoms include unresponsiveness or inability to wake up, no urination, crying without tears, quick or troublesome breathing, grayish or bluish skin tone, not drinking enough fluids, and any other abnormal actions or symptoms.
Does the influenza vaccination work for swine flu (H1N1)?
No. The seasonal influenza vaccine available each year will not protect your child from the 2009 swine flu (H1N1) virus. Swine flu is a mutated strain of the influenza virus, which seasonal flu shots have not proven to protect against.
How can my child receive a swine flu (H1N1) immunization?
Studies are still being done regarding children and the swine flu vaccine. Therefore it is not yet available as of the time and date of this writing. As with other vaccinations, your child's doctor is a good place to start for information. Once the vaccine emerges from the testing phase and becomes available for children, it will be available in various settings, such as pharmacies, health clinics, private practices, workplaces, and more. The US Centers for Disease Control will always have the most updated health information. Their website, CDC.gov, has a special section dedicated to the swine flu vaccination that will be updated as necessary.
How dangerous is the swine flu to my child?
Children who are younger than 5 and those with chronic conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, are in the group of children at the worst risk when contracting swine flu. Also included are pregnant women and people over 65 or with chronic disease and conditions. Swine flu can be potentially dangerous to anyone, but it is predicted that most will experience only mild symptoms, such as with seasonal influenza. Although risks may turn out mild for some, children who are suspected to have swine flu should see a doctor for an evaluation. Tests will be done and if necessary, influenza medications may be prescribed.
How can I keep my child safe from swine flu (H1N1)?
Washing hands often and coughing or sneezing into tissues rather than into the air can help prevent germs from spreading. Children also should be encouraged not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Also, be sure to keep your child away from other sick people and animals. If your child is sick, keep him or her home to help avoid infecting others. If you or others in the home are sick, try to keep the sick person as isolated from others as possible. Once the swine flu vaccination becomes available, it is recommended that children get the vaccine.
*Note that the author is not a licensed medical professional and the above is intended for informational purposes. Always contact a licensed medical professional for matters pertaining to your health.
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