Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Swine Flu Spreads, Fall Flu Season Looms

Health Officials Warn About Swine Flu's Potential in Fall Even as Some Guidelines Are Eased
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 7, 2009 -- H1N1 swine flu is spreading faster and wider in the U.S. That's worrisome -- but more and more, health officials are fretting about what might happen this fall.

So far, H1N1 swine flu disease has been milder than originally feared. That's led the CDC to relax some of its original guidelines.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

Swine Flu Slideshow

Learn more about the H1N1 swine flu and see what you can do to stay healthy.

View the slideshow.

Schools and day care centers need no longer close if a few kids get the new flu. And in communities with known H1N1 outbreaks, the CDC no longer recommends confirmatory H1N1 lab tests for otherwise healthy people with mild flu symptoms.

But that doesn't mean anybody should relax, acting CDC Director Richard Besser, MD, said at today's H1N1 swine flu briefing.

"We are not seeing any sign of this petering out. We are still on the upswing of the epidemic curve," Besser said.

The number of cases is expected to rise as the new flu spreads across the country. But the hope and expectation is that, aided by the warm summer weather that flu bugs don't like, the rate of spread will slow.

That may only be the lull before the storm, Besser warned. What worries health officials is what will happen this fall when traditional flu season begins.

"We don't know what the fall will bring," Besser said. "What has been seen with previous outbreaks is flu goes away in the summer. But during the winter flu spreads better, so the virus could go away and come back."

Besser urged Americans to take advantage of this breathing room. True, H1N1 swine flu could just go away for a number of reasons. On the other hand, it could just as easily become more severe as it picks up elements from seasonal flu bugs.

"This period of time before the fall is critically important for community preparedness should this virus come back in a severe form," Besser said.

There's a lot that governments, communities, and businesses can do. But Besser strongly urged individuals to prepare at the family level. He stressed hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs. He also pointed families to the CDC's pandemic flu web site.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat