What Kids Need to Know About H1N1

Style News Wire | 10/15/2009, 7 p.m.
Last spring, H1N1 (swine) flu was all over the news. The virus spread from Mexico and eventually people in the ...

The experts at KidsHealth.org give us a crash course on the swine flu pandemic

H1N1 is a new flu Last spring, H1N1 (swine) flu was all over the news. The virus spread from Mexico and eventually people in the United States and other countries also got sick. Most people got better after having a fever, sore throat and body aches, similar to the symptoms of the seasonal flu. But people who have other health problems may get very sick from this flu. Health officials consider H1N1 (swine) flu a pandemic. That means the H1N1 virus has spread throughout the world, can make people very sick and can spread easily from one person to another. Health experts say the H1N1 vaccine is a good idea, especially for young people. New viruses like this one are unpredictable and more people get the flu in the fall and winter. If we can keep people from getting it in the first place, that would be good for all of us.

Washing hands is the best defense Most kids want to know: Should I worry or not worry about this flu? Medical experts say instead of worrying, wash your hands! Worry won’t keep you from getting the flu (or any infectious disease), but good hand-washing often can keep you healthy. A virus is a germ, as you probably know, and germs are too small to be seen. Keeping your hands clean — and following other good habits like not sharing drinks and keeping your fingers out of your mouth, nose and eyes — can help protect you from germs. Another way to be helpful is for sick people to stay home from school (if you’re a kid) or work (if you’re a grownup).

Symptoms of H1N1 (swine) flu include a fever plus one or more of these:

Cough

Sore throat

Runny nose

Body aches

Headaches

Tiredness

A person who has the H1N1 virus also might throw up or have diarrhea. Be sure to tell a parent if you’re not feeling well. Most people who catch the H1N1 virus will get better on their own, but if someone has a medical condition, like asthma or diabetes, or is very sick and needs to be hospitalized, antiviral medicine might help the person get better faster.

What to do: Here are some everyday steps you can take to stay well: I Avoid people who are sick (coughing, fever, etc.). I Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. That’s how germs get in your body. I Don’t drink out of the same cup or share utensils (forks, spoons) with other people.

Just the facts News reports about the H1N1 virus may make you con- fused or worried. Because this is a new illness, the news covers both what has happened and what might happen in the worst-case scenario. Because you’ll be hearing more about H1N1, we recommend a “just the facts” approach. That means we stick with what we know and make decisions based on that. It may be months before we know the whole story and how many people it will affect. In the meantime, keep those hands clean and be sure to tell your mom or dad if you have any concerns.