This document updates previously posted information for parents about infant
feeding and novel H1N1 flu (swine flu). It now more clearly addresses
parents who are formula feeding as well as breastfeeding, suggests that parents
sick with novel H1N1 flu (swine flu) find someone who is not sick to feed the
baby, and provides more detailed strategies for breastfeeding mothers to
maintain breastfeeding throughout the course of infection. This document is
based on current knowledge of the novel...
The flu is actually very different from a cold. While more than 100 different viruses can cause a cold, only influenza virus types A, B, and C cause the flu.
Type A and B viruses are responsible for the large flu epidemics. Type C flu virus is more stable and usually causes milder respiratory symptoms. While the flu vaccine can help protect you from type A and B flu viruses, there is no immunization or flu shot for type C virus.
Type A flu virus is divided into different subtypes based on the chemical structure of the virus. Type B flu virus is not divided into subtypes. Both type A and type B flu viruses are responsible for the seasonal outbreaks of flu.
Type A flu viruses are found in many different animals, including ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses, and seals. Influenza B viruses circulate widely only among humans.
How Is the Flu Virus Spread?
The flu is a highly contagious disease. The flu virus is spread when you either inhale infected droplets in the air (spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes) or when you come in direct contact with an infected person's secretions (by kissing, touching, sharing objects such as spoons and forks). You can also transfer the flu virus to your hands by touching smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, television remotes, computer keyboards, and telephones. Then when you touch your hands to your nose, eyes, or mouth, the flu virus gets absorbed.
What Is a Flu Epidemic?
Flu outbreaks are classified as epidemics, which means they occur in a set geographical area, or pandemics, which means a worldwide occurrence. According to the CDC, winter flu epidemics can cause illness in 10% to 20% of the population and are associated with 3,000 to 49,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States.