Swine flu

H1N1 Influenza is the official name for the swine flu. It is a new strain of flu that appears to make people sicker than the usual seasonal flu viruses. Usually, the flu is particularly dangerous for the very young and the elderly, but H1N1 Influenza does not appear to follow the same rules, attacking people who previously had no health concerns. There is no known natural immunity to H1N1 influenza.

As of October 9, 2009, New Zealand had a number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza and H1N1-associated deaths. Swine flu’s initial outbreak was in Mexico, but is has since spread throughout more than 100 countries throughout the world.

What causes H1N1 Influenza?

H1N1 Influenza is a virus. Like any flu virus, it is spread through contact with infected people. Children are particularly susceptible because they don't always practice good hygiene.

Is H1N1 Influenza serious?

The World Health Organization declared H1N1 Influenza a pandemic in June 2009. A pandemic means that that an illness has spread throughout the world and has infected a large number of people. Swine flu is spread quickly and should be taken seriously, although most people fully recover from H1N1 Influenza.

Can I prevent swine flu?

The best way to prevent any flu, including H1N1 Influenza is to teach your child the following precautions:

  • Cover his mouth and nose when he coughs or sneezes.
  • Throw dirty tissues in the bin.
  • Wash her hands with soap regularly and often.
  • If your child is not feeling well, keep him home from school and activities to avoid infecting other children and spreading the virus. Children are generally contagious for 24 hours before and
  • up to 10 days after they start having flulike symptoms.
  • You cannot catch swine flu from contact with pigs or from eating pork.

How do I know if my child has H1N1 Influenza?

Children with swine flu display the following symptoms:

The only way to know for certain if your child has H1N1 Influenza is to take him to the doctor to get tested within seven days of the onset of flulike symptoms. The doctor will take a swab sample from your child's nose and throat and have the sample analysed.

How do I treat swine flu?

As of September 30, 2009, a vaccine to protect people from H1N1 Influenza or swine flu called Panvax® H1N1 is available.

Your child's doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu to lessen the severity of his symptoms.

At home treatment for swine flu is the same as any other strain of flu - make sure your child gets lots of rest, fluids and paracetamol as needed.

Should I call the doctor?

Whenever you suspect your child has been exposed to swine flu, call your doctor and make an appointment to have her tested.

What you need to know about swine flu

Last revised: Monday, 30 November 2009

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.