McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

H1N1 (swine) influenza update

Published: October 26, 2009

Departments and schools through the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) have been preparing for the potential for another wave of H1N1 influenza A.

The University is keeping up-to-date information for faculty, staff, students and visitors at its H1N1 Flu Information website.

As the Faculty of Health Sciences has relationships with the healthcare community and facilities throughout Ontario, we will have additional information here.  When appropriate, updates will also be sent out by broadcast e-mails.

Faculty who are medical and health care staff should follow the directions given by their health care institution and their local public health unit.

For use by students and faculty, the Faculty of Health Sciences has prepared the following guidelines for students in clinical placements:

All health care professionals and students in clinical placements are reminded to follow the healthcare institution’s appropriate infection control procedures, protocols, policies, and techniques to protect you and to decrease transmission of any infectious organism. This includes hand hygiene, appropriate use of barrier devices; the need to follow posted infection control procedures, appropriate identification of patients with symptoms of transmissible respiratory illnesses.

If you have questions not covered by this information, please talk to your program or department administrator or contact:

Susan Emigh
Director, Public Relations,
Faculty of Health Sciences at or
905-525-9140, ext. 22555

Below is some general information, some steps to prevent the spread of a viral infection and links to official sites with more detailed information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is H1N1 Flu?
2009 H1N1 (sometimes called "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway. This virus was originally referred to as "swine flu" because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs (swine) in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia as well as in bird (avian) genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.1
Q. What can I do to protect myself and others?
  • Wash your hands frequently – with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers – particularly before and after meals, when returning home from a busy public place or after any contact with a person who is sick.
  • Try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Do not share personal items or drinks.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze by using a tissue or by coughing and sneezing into your elbow. Discard the tissue and wash or sanitize your hands immediately.
  • Keep doing what you normally do, but stay home if you are sick.
  • See a health-care professional if you experience severe flu-like symptoms.
Q. What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea are also associated with H1N1 flu. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Q. What is the infectious period?

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Additional information

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