American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) are likely to suffer from complications of viral illnesses than other races.
This is also true for influenza ("flu") infections in AI/AN and according to a recent study this is likely to be true for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
This fall and winter, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus will continue to circulate and cause infections alongside the seasonal types of influenza that normally occurs each winter.
Receiving the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine will provide the best source of protection from these flu viruses including the H1N1 flu virus. Everyone who can receive the vaccine (please talk to your doctor if you are unsure) is encouraged to get the vaccine and that especially includes children, young adults and adults with chronic diseases.
So start the flu season with an added level of protection and take prevention seriously for youself, your family and your community!
What Can I Do to Prevent the Flu? Where Can I Get the Vaccine?
First and foremost, ask a doctor or nurse about getting the flu vaccine and get it!
Don't forget to wash your hands often, avoid those with flu like illnesses, frequent use of alcohol based sanitizers for your hands.
This fall, the H1N1 flu vaccine will be combined with the usual seasonal flu vaccine, so there will be no need to receive two different flu vaccine as we did last winter.
There will be two types of vaccines: the shot and the nasal spray. Talk to your doctor about which one you and/or your family members can receive.
There are also many incorrect stories going around about the dangers of the flu vaccine, but the fact is that the flu vaccine has been made the same way for decades and has proven to be safe, including being safe for pregnant women and their children. In addition, public health officials are constantly monitoring for any signs of adverse effects of these vaccines.
For more information on the 2010 vaccination - click here
Click here for the Vaccination Clinic Locator
Click here for the flu.gov vaccination Finder
How Do I Know if I have the Flu?
Being sick with the flu may include the following:
High fever (over 100 degrees F.)
Congestion or runny nose
Other symptoms that may occur, particularly with H1N1 flu, include vomiting or diarrhea.
Click here for instructions on taking care of yourself while ill.
When Should I see My Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room for Flu Symptoms?
Call or go see your health care provider or go to the emergency room if you have these symptoms:
Unable to eat normally and are unable to keep down food for more than 6 hours.
Fever of over 101 degrees F for more than a couple of days.
Trouble breathing and/or chest pains.
Usual drowsiness, confusion, or inablity to think clearly.
Passing out or fainting or feeling like you will.
If you are diabetic, your blood glucose is lower than 60 mg/dL or remains over 300 mg/dL.
Loss of 5 pounds or more in a short period of time (losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose).
How Can I Protect My Children?
Parents can help protect their children and reduce the spread of the flu by teaching your children to ...
Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
Set a good example by doing this yourself.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available.
Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues.
Throw away used tissues in the trash after each use.
Avoid being near people who are sick.
FINALLY...Have them get the INFLUENZA VACCINE!
Symptoms of flu-like illness in children include all the symptoms that adults can have (see above) but for infants and toddlers, be aware of additional signs of flu illness:
Being unusually tired and cranky.
Trouble breathing or having fast, shallow breathing.
Confusion and difficulty paying attention normally.
Not walking around or interacting as usual.
Skin discoloration (bluish or gray) around lips, mouth or nails.
If your child has flu symptoms, it is important that he/she does not attend school or go out in public —such as childcare, the mall, or sporting events—where other people could catch the flu from them. Click here for parent and expecting parents Flu Virus resources.
Information for Other Groups of People: Pregnant Women and Diabetics
Pregnant women are not more likely to get the H1N1 (swine) flu, but if they do catch the virus, they may be more likely to get very ill and that may affect their pregnancy.
Any infectious illness (like the flu) can put a mother and unborn baby’s health at risk. Some pregnant women sick with flu have had early labor and severe pneumonia.
If you are pregnant and have flu-like symptoms, like a cough, runny or stuffy nose, or high fever, take this seriously and contact your physician.
Click here for further details on the flu and pregnancy.
Being sick by itself can raise your blood glucose. An illness can prevent you from eating properly, which also affects blood glucose.
In addition, diabetes can make the immune system more vulnerable to severe cases of the flu. People with diabetes who get the flu may become very sick and may even have to go to the hospital.
You can help protect yourself from getting the flu by getting a flu shot every year. Also, ask your doctor before you get sick to discuss what to do if you should get flu symptoms. You may need to contact the nurse, check your blood sugar more often, and other specific instructions.
For information regarding the flu and diabetes, click here.
For more information, please feel free to contact us at:
Barbara Hart, RN, PHN
Phone: (916) 929-9761 Ext #1504
Virginia Myers, Epidemiology Program Coordinator
Phone: (916) 929-9761 Ext #1602
California Rural Indian Health Board
4400 Auburn Blvd, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95842
Phone: (916) 929-9761
Fax: (916) 929-7246