Flu Fear
Is H1N1 Among Us?

The Prospect received a letter of concern from Dianna Simar:

Why is no one reporting the flu outbreak in Loyalton schools? I called the clinic and they confirmed that a number of students were out with what was likely H1N1. Some students have been tested and it has been confirmed. Yet I can't find anything in the papers about this. Are we trying to keep it quiet? I know some people may over react but we need to be letting everyone know that there are preventative measures.

Thanks to Dianna for keeping our attention on the pandemic!

Thanks to Dianna for keeping our attention on the pandemic!

We looked into the situation and determined that both Sierra and Plumas counties have had a rash of flu like diseases; children are back to school, and there is often an increase in flu this time of year. Many could be swine flu, but there is no way to tell simply by observing the symptoms which kind of flu it is.

There is very likely H1N1 in our communities, but there is no reason to panic yet. For most people, the experience of the flu is the same whichever you get. Seasonal flu kills many people each year, and will do so this year. H1N1 doesn’t yet seem to be very deadly. That doesn’t mean it can’t turn deadly. Further, while seasonal flu can be very trying, the H1N1 is novel, meaning our bodies have no experience with it. This means it can take longer to get over the new flu.

Seasonal flu tends to kill older people and small children, particularly those with on going health issues. This can be true of H1N1, but it is more likely to kill those in their 20’s, since what kills is the body’s reaction to the flu, and people in their prime have the best immune systems. If you are very old, you might have been exposed to the previous swine/bird flu from earlier in the last century, and that might confer some protection.

The symptoms are familiar: body aches and fatigue, sore throat, fever, cough, runny nose. Some people might also have diarrhea and vomiting. Either flu can keep you down for one to two weeks, and may take four to six weeks to completely go away.

Most people won’t need to go to the doctor, whichever flu they get, unless they have previously existing health considerations like asthma, or obesity; pregnant women should also be attended by a health care provider.

Healthy people can treat it at home by making the patient comfortable, avoiding noise and bright light, and above all staying hydrated. You’ll need to go see your provider if you become severely ill, with difficulty breathing or dehydration.

Best is to avoid getting the flu. The first line of defense is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are also thought to be effective. If you have flu like symptoms, please, stay home!

Seasonal flu shots are available at the drive through flu clinics Sierra County Health is offering (see below). H1N1 shots will be available soon. Typically, these will be given first to people including pregnant women, people who live with or care for children under infants, healthcare and emergency-medical responders, children and people ages 6-24 years, and people 25-64 years old who have chronic health issues.


Previous Prospect H1N1 story Here.

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