Protecting yourself against H1N1 (For Transplant Recipients)
Jaime Myers, RN, MSN, CCTC
H1N1 is a new type of influenza virus. The first case of H1N1 seen in the United States was in April 2009. As common with any virus, if you have had a transplant, you may be at a higher risk of getting H1N1.
It is important for you to protect yourself from H1N1 when possible. Here are some helpful tips:
- Get the H1N1 vaccine! This vaccine is not yet available, but will be soon. It is different shot than the regular influenza vaccine (which is also recommended for transplant patients). Caution should be taken to AVOID any live virus versions of the vaccine (such as nasal sprays).
- Know the symptoms to watch for! These include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also have vomiting and diarrhea.
- If you get symptoms, contact your health care team or transplant program right away! You may need to have testing done. There are medicines that can be given to prevent against and treat H1N1. Your health care team can advise you as to what the best medicines are to take to help control the symptoms and treat the virus.
- If you have symptoms, avoid going out in public when possible. Talk to your doctor about rescheduling any routine doctor visits. When you do go out, wear a facemask. This will help prevent the spread of the virus. You can spread the virus from one day before to seven days after you have symptoms. Wait until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever reducing medicine, before you go out.
- Avoid people who have symptoms. People in your home with confirmed, probable, or suspected H1N1 should wear a facemask if/when they can. If possible, you should not be their primary caregiver. You can get the virus from them from one day before to five to seven days after they have symptoms.
- If you have close contact with a person with symptoms of or known H1N1, contact your health care team. They may advise you to take medicine that can help prevent you from getting sick.
- If there is a confirmed case of H1N1 in your community, avoid crowded public settings when possible. If you do go out, wear a facemask.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay informed! The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is a great resource to keep up-to-date on the latest information about H1N1. Visit their website at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
Remember to contact your health care team or transplant program with any questions about H1N1, especially if you have been exposed to the virus or if you have symptoms.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
Retrieved on September 17, 2009.
Jaime Myers, RN, MSN, CCTC, Liver Transplant Coordinator
She works with the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Abdominal Transplant Program in a clinical nurse specialist role to help facilitate patient and staff education and protocol development.