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A new and very different influenza virus called “2009 H1N1” flu has emerged and is causing illness in people worldwide. This flu season may be more severe than usual because of the new H1N1 virus. Also, regular seasonal flu will continue to spread and cause illness.
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and feeling very tired. Children younger than 6 months may have fever, decreased activity and poor appetite.
Children under 5 years of age and young adults are at greater risk of illness from this virus. This is different from seasonal flu which usually is most severe in children younger than 2 years and the elderly.
Most otherwise healthy children who get this flu will not need medical treatment. However, people who have one or more of the conditions listed below can have a more severe illness if they get the flu, including the H1N1 influenza virus.
If you or your child has any of these health conditions and develops flu-like symptoms, call your health care provider or seek medical care. Unless your child’s doctor says not to, continue to give your child his usual medicines, even if he is sick with the flu. Do not give aspirin or aspirin-containing products to children with influenza. Influenza and aspirin therapy may lead to Reye Syndrome, a rare condition that may lead to liver failure.
Unless your child needs to be in the hospital, testing may not be necessary. Please do not bring your child to the Emergency Department for testing. Fevers and body aches are common at this time of year. In a heavy flu season, the many sick patients needing care will be given priority over those who come to the hospital for testing.
These are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs do not cure the flu, but they can make the illness milder and make people feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. Most children get better on their own and don’t need these medicines. At this time, the supply of these anti-viral drugs is very low and many pharmacies do not have them. For these reasons, the antiviral drugs may be limited to patients who are in the hospital with severe illness.
Most children with influenza do not need to see their doctor. Medicine to reduce fever (Tylenol® or ibuprofen), rest and fluids will treat the symptoms. Call the doctor if your child:
H1N1 (Influenza Virus) (PDF)
HH-I-317 9/9/09 Copyright 2009, Nationwide Children’s Hospital