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H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Information

Download a fact sheet on Swine Flu from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (PDF):
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Last Updated:
Thursday, March 18, 2010
(Next update as needed)

At Southcoast, your health matters — and so does your peace of mind.

Watch a video on vaccination and hand washing from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Southcoast's mission is to deliver the safest, highest quality care and services to our patients. We take pride in the excellent care we provide every day, and value the opportunity to be your local connection to critical health information and services.

Southcoast has dedicated significant resources over the past months to monitoring the local situation and staying apprised of the ever-changing national and international situation. At Southcoast, we continue to follow the recommendations issued by the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

We ask you to continue to use good health practices, most importantly, wash your hands often, practice good "cough etiquette" and stay home if you think you have the flu.

Latest Information from the Massachusetts DPH Blog

Read the DPH blog on H1N1 flu

Weekly Report on Novel H1N1 Influenza (swine flu) as of March 18, 2010.

This Week's Developments:

As you can see in this week's report, once again the level of flu-like illness in the state remains low in contrast to what is expected at this time of year. Nevertheless, flu season can last through the spring in Massachusetts so we encourage everyone to get the H1N1 vaccine. Find a clinic near you at

H1N1 Flu & Travel

Read the more travel tips from the CDC

Every holiday season, millions of Americans travel to spend time and celebrate with their friends and family. In preparation for these busy travel days, crowded airports and bustling holiday parties, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has launched the National Travelers' Health Public Awareness Campaign to help travelers prepare for their trips and stay healthy throughout the holiday season.

The CDC urges people to stay informed about what to do if they get sick while they're away and to take the following steps when planning their travel:

  • Travel only when you are feeling well.

  • Wash your hands often, and carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when warm water and soap aren't available.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use your inner elbow, rather than your hands.

  • Get vaccinated for both seasonal and H1N1 flu, once they are available, especially if you are a member of a priority group.

CDC Vaccine Fact Sheets

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have issued fact sheets for the H1N1 (Swine) flu vaccines.

There are two types available: A shot and a nasal spray.

Helpful Tips

DPH Guidance for the Public:

Preventing the Flu: Because there is no vaccine for H1N1 influenza, public health officials remind all Massachusetts residents to continue taking simple steps to keep themselves and others healthy.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your inner elbow and not into your hands.
  • If you are sick stay home from work — and if your child is sick keep them home from school — until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° Farenheit), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. (This is a change from the previous recommendation that ill persons stay home for 7 days after illness onset or until 24 hours after the resolution of symptoms, whichever was longer.)
  • Health care workers who are sick should still stay home for 7 days after illness onset or until 24 hours after the resolution of symptoms, whichever was longer.
  • Stay informed about the latest developments on the H1N1 flu.

Treating the Flu: Most people that get the H1N1 flu do not need to be tested or seen by a doctor. They can simply stay home, get plenty of rest, and take over-the-counter medication for their fever, aches and pains. Although the H1N1 flu doesn't seem to be more severe than the seasonal flu, certain groups of people may be at greater risk for complications from any flu — whether seasonal or H1N1.

Anyone in the groups listed below who has a fever, along with a cough, sore throat or runny nose, should contact their doctor to talk with them about treatment with antivirals. Antivirals work best if they are taken within 2 days of when symptoms start, so even people with mild illness should call their doctor right away if they have any of these conditions.

  • Children less than 2 years old.
  • People age 65 years or older.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who have chronic health problems like heart disease, asthma or diabetes.
  • Children and teens who are on long-term aspirin therapy who might be at risk for experiencing Reye's syndrome after influenza virus infection.
  • Adults and children who have compromised immune systems caused by medications or by HIV infection.

The full report can be found at:

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

The symptoms in people with swine flu are similar to normal human seasonal influenza and include:

  • Fever.

  • Cough.

  • Headache.

  • Runny nose.

  • Lack of appetite.

  • Myalgias (muscle aches and pains).

  • Lethargy (tired feeling, low energy).

It can also include vomiting and diarrhea in addition to influenza symptoms.

Conjunctivitis (a type of eye infection) has been reported, but is not common.

Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions and invasive bacterial infection. Symptoms in children may differ. Please check the DPH website.

What you can do to stay healthy

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

  • Practice good "cough etiquette" by coughing or sneezing into a tissue, or into your elbow instead of into your hands.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.

Where to find local information on swine flu

Southcoast Hospitals Group posts information on our website on a regular basis.

We encourage you to follow us on Twitter or by RSS feed.

Where to find the facts on swine flu

When in question it is always best to refer to the experts.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) or your own Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) provide daily if not hourly, updates on the following websites.

We have highlighted a few items that you will find on these informative sites:

MASS 211 activated to help provide the public with information: Massachusetts residents can now call (2-1-1) for basic information about swine flu.

What pregnant women should know about H1N1

September 3, 2009 | Health Column: H1N1 2009 & Pregnancy: Where are we now?

The following advice is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

    We don't know if this virus will cause pregnant women to have a greater chance of getting sick or have serious problems. We also do not know how this virus will affect the baby.

    We do know that pregnant women are more likely to get sick than others and have more serious problems with seasonal flu. These problems may include early labor or severe pneumonia. We don't know if this virus will do the same, but it should be taken very seriously.

    Full text and much more information can be found here.

What Southcoast is doing

Southcoast continues to monitor the latest information, guidelines and events coming from our public health officials. Here are highlights of what is taking place behind the scenes:

  • The Southcoast PanVax Steering Committee (named after DPH's statewide Operation PanVax to address H1N1 and seasonal flu) has outlined a number of priorities, including employee vaccinations, public education, H1N1 public flu clinics, community outreach and educational posters and information for staff, patients and visitors.

  • The hospital is working internally on a number of priorities, including diligent surveillance and screening by our health care providers, infection prevention personnel and laboratories.

  • We continue to update our employees on the many levels of care necessary for this type of outbreak, including how to screen and report "suspected cases" of swine flu and how to treat and care for such cases.

  • We are constantly evaluating our current supplies that assist in prevention, protection and mitigation of an outbreak that may affect one person to multiple people. This ranges from masks and gowns to beds and medications. We report this information across the three hospital sites and externally to public agencies. An important part of this process is ordering additional supplies and coordinating with the state regarding access to antiviral supplies.

  • We are participating in regional, state and national emergency planning. Open lines of communication and coordinating efforts with Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Emergency Preparedness Bureau and Southcoast Emergency Preparedness Planning Partnership continue to be an essential part of our emergency preparedness. It is important to remember, the hospital's Emergency Preparedness Committee meets throughout the year to coordinate drills and plan for all types and levels of emergency incidents.

  • Our Public Information Officer is working closely with our local media outlets to provide the most up-to-date information regarding the hospital's readiness and role as well as any important information that our community members need to know about their local health care services.

News coverage

Alltop, all the top storiesNews coverage of swine flu (H1N1 virus) from news aggegator website Alltop

Advice from Southcoast ER physician Sam Shen, MD

Sam Shen, MD, an emergency medicine physician at St. Luke's Hospital, spoke with WPRI Channel 12 (CBS) for a story on swine flu that ran on April 30, 2009. Click here to watch video.

More news coverage on swine flu.

(Sources: The Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: Swine Flu Alert DPH 4-30-09)

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