Oregon State University

H1N1 Virus Overview

What is H1N1 (swine flu)?

H1N1 (referred to as "swine flu" early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. It was first detected in humans in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with the new virus. The virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

What are the signs and symptoms of the H1N1 virus in people?

The symptoms of 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. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with the virus.

How does H1N1 virus spread?

Spread of H1N1 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 by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?

At the current time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Is there a vaccine for H1N1?

Even though a vaccine has been developed and is now being distributed around the country, it is being produced in far smaller quantities than originally projected, due to the unexpectedly long time required to manufacture each dose. As a result, vaccination sites around the nation, including here in Oregon, are getting much smaller vaccine quantities than anticipated.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established several groups as priorities for receiving vaccination, due to group members’ higher-than-usual vulnerability to H1N1: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact, children 6 months through 4 years of age, and children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.

Some vaccine has already reached Corvallis and been administered; additional doses will arrive in the coming days and weeks. OSU will make certain that any campus-based H1N1 vaccine clinics or vaccine availability are promoted heavily to students, faculty, staff and others who might be eligible to receive the vaccine here.