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Among people with disabilities, the following groups are at higher risk of acquiring the H1N1 infection:
- People who have difficultly breathing – (ventilator users and individuals with asthma and other respiratory conditions – this could include individuals with a range of disabilities such as intellectual and developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, seizure disorders, and metabolic conditions).
- People who have difficulty fighting infections or who are immunocompromised – (individuals with HIV, cancer, and other types of immune suppression, or individuals using immunosuppressive medications).
- People of any age who have chronic health conditions (heart disease, metabolic [i.e., diabetes], renal, hepatic, hematological [i.e. sickle cell anemia], pulmonary, or neurological disorders).
- People who have pharmacological dependency.
- People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy due to their risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome.
- Children prone to dehydration from poor nutritional and fluid intake caused by prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, or underlying metabolic conditions.
- People who have limited mobility or who cannot limit coming into contact with others who are infected, like staff and family members
- People who have trouble understanding or practicing preventive measures such as hand washing
- People who may not be able to communicate symptoms of illness
- People who may not be monitored closely for symptoms of illness
What are the symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu?
The symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
How can someone avoid getting 2009 H1N1 flu?
The flu is spread from person-to-person, mostly through coughing or sneezing. You can take simple actions to protect yourself and others from getting the flu:
· Get a seasonal flu shot now and the 2009 H1N1 flu shot as it becomes available.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
· Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you get sick with flu-like illness:
· Contact your health care provider. Your health care provider can determine if you need to be treated with antiviral medication.
· Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making them sick. CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Is there a vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 flu, and for whom is it available?
Yes. A vaccine for the 2009 H1N1 flu has been developed and is becoming available. Groups prioritized for initial doses of influenza vaccine based on their risk of developing severe disease include (see also http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_keyfacts.htm):
· pregnant women,
· persons who live with or provide care for infants aged <6 months (e.g., parents, siblings, and daycare providers),
· health-care and emergency medical services personnel,*
· persons aged 6 months--24 years, and
· persons aged 25--64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications.
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