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H1N1 Self-Isolation Guide

October 2009

Taking Care of H1N1 Influenza at Home

This is advice on managing influenza illness at home when isolation practices are advised.

Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that causes fever and cough with sore throat, headache or muscle aches. In addition to these, children occasionally experience vomiting and diarrhea.

What is H1N1 flu?
More investigation is needed on how easily the virus spreads between people but it is believed that it is spread the same way as regular seasonal influenza.
Influenza and other respiratory infections are transmitted from person to person when germs enter the nose and/or throat. Coughs and sneezes release germs into the air where they can be breathed in by others.
Germs can also rest on hard surfaces like counters and doorknobs, where they can be picked up on hands and transmitted to the respiratory system when someone touches their mouth and/or nose.

What does home isolation mean? Why have I not been admitted to the hospital?
If your respiratory illness is mild to moderate, home isolation and treatment is less disruptive and more comfortable than a hospital.
If you must go into the community (i.e. to seek medical care), avoid exposing others by avoiding crowded areas and consider wearing a face mask.

How long will I be in isolation?
Stay at home for seven days unless directed otherwise by your health care provider. Reschedule appointments and coordinate with friends and family to pick up groceries, prescriptions etc. to reduce the risk of exposing others.
If you have been prescribed medication, complete the course of treatment recommended by your health care provider before returning to work.

Should I remain in contact with anyone?
Ask your health care provider whether you should check back with them to report your health status.
However, if your symptoms of influenza worsen and you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain or high fever, contact your health care provider for further direction.

What should I have at home during isolation?
Comfort: ensure your home is supplied with basic needs such as telephone, drinking water, functioning bathroom, hygiene products and a comfortable sleeping area (preferably separate for other members of your household).

Support: ensure you have a personal resource that can check in on and help as necessary with meals and essential shopping and can keep you company.

Are other people in the house at risk?
It is important that everyone in the household follow basic infection control measures to prevent the spread. Other people living with or attending to you should:
• Practice frequent hand washing with soap and water.
• Use alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty.
• If you are within two meters (six feet) of others at home, consider wearing a face mask if one is available.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting


If you have questions, please contact HealthLine at 1-877-800-0002 or