Resources for Understanding the Novel Influenza A Outbreak

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Resources for Understanding the H1N1 Influenza Outbreak

H1N1 influenza virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Outbreaks of a novel strain of the H1N1 influenza (previously known as Swine Flu) have been detected in humans in multiple states in the United States as well as Mexico and other countries in the spring of 2009. This has been a fast-moving story in which agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have played leading roles. Although the National Human Genome Research Institute is not involved in these studies at this time, all parts of the government have been asked to help distributed reliable information about the outbreak and means by which individuals can protect their health and the health of their friends and families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a DHHS agency, has led the investigation into reported outbreaks in the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) has coordinated similar investigations internationally. In addition, CDC has prepared guidance and recommendations on protective steps one can take to avoid becoming infected with this flu virus.

General Information

What is the novel Influenza A (H1N1)?

The novel Influenza A (H1N1) is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza viruses that cause regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get H1N1, but human infections can and do happen. H1N1 viruses have been reported to spread from person to person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the novel influenza A (H1N1). If you exhibit symptoms, you should limit contact with other people to prevent the spread of infection. Seek appropriate medical attention, and follow any instructions from your primary care provider.

Is this novel influenza A (H1N1) virus contagious? And how does it spread?

CDC has determined that this novel influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Spread of this new H1N1 flu virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching contaminated objects or surfaces with flu viruses on them and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

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Prevention Measures

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against the novel influenza A (H1N1). There are everyday actions, however, that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like H1N1 influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health and avoid spreading the flu:

Practice good hygiene.

Try not to touch potentially contaminated surfaces.

Antiviral Prophylaxis and Treatment

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Helpful Links and Resources

General Information

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The Following Information Is Primarily of Value to Employees of the Federal Government

OPM Information for Federal Employees
OPM Info for Departments and Agencies
Human Capital Planning for Pandemic Influenza
HHS Information

Should you have questions regarding the above subject, please contact your servicing Human Resources Center/Office for assistance at: http://intranet.hhs.gov/hr/ohr/index.html

Federal Occupational Health

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Last Reviewed: February 26, 2012