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Is it just the flu, or H1N1?

October 13, 2009 3:07:15 PM PDT
Steve Marino spends most days teaching English at St. Francis Prep in Queens. Six months ago, he found himself flat on his back, home in bed. He was a victim of the swine flu outbreak that swept thru his school.

"I started getting the chills. I started getting the sweats. I started getting a headache," he explained.

And then the high fever hit -- a classic H1N1 symptom.

It took a doctor to make the final diagnosis -- a point that experts are stressing as flu season gets underway this fall.

"The only way you can tell for sure is to do a culture and do an micro-biologic analysis of that virus to determine which one it is," Dr. Bruce Farber, Chief of Infectious Diseases at North Shore University Hospital, said.

Farber says there's no way for you to tell on your own if you've got seasonal or swine flu.

Both have identical early symptoms: fever, chills, body aches, feeling very tired, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and dry cough.

But H1N1 may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Click here to view the complete special, Swine Flu: A Dose of Reality

One of the big questions this flu season -- how do you know when you're sick enough to seek medical attention?

"If you start getting worse right from the get go, after 3 days that's no good. Any of those other signs -- shortness of breath, confusion, high fever, inability to keep fluids down -- are the warning signs that medical attention is needed," Farber said.

Farber says the good news is that months of experience with the H1N1 virus have shown it's not as virulent or as deadly as first feared.

In fact, Marino insists he wasn't much sicker with swine flu than he was with any other flu he's come down with before.

"People don't need to panic. We panicked in April. We don't need to panic anymore," he said.

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ON THE NET:

North Shore University Hospital Flu Information Guide


NEW YORK SWINE FLU RESOURCE GUIDE

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

From New York City Health Department

Facts about flu
http://www.nyc.gov/flu

From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

General information about swine flu
www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu

Swine Flu Case Definitions
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/casedef_swineflu.htm

Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/guidelines_infection_control.htm

Preventing the Flu
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm

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