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The H1N1 SWINE FLU is back. Info from a RN who's seen the worst.

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

The FLU is bad this year – please be careful.


Reports of flu are increasing dramatically in January in comparison to December.  For instance, in Missouri the number of new cases jumped from 187 in the first week of December to 1300+ in the first week of January.  That is scary.


Why, you may ask, is this scary beyond normal?  This year’s predominant flu strain is the H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) that killed many in 2009.  It is especially harmful to people younger than 30 and also those who are pregnant.


This is not medical hype.  I worked at a US top-10 ranked hospital from 2008-2011 and I saw it firsthand.  I took care of a 30yo pregnant mother of 5 who, after contracting the flu around Thanksgiving, died about a month later.  Many ppl on this site are suspicious of medical stuff in general, but I can tell you this lady came to us in a downward spiral and everything we gave her was support.  We didn’t  “do” anything to her, other than give everything we had to save her. 


She had no major medical history or anything that would complicate matters, but still her kidneys failed, her BP was very erratic, her temp dropped to the 93 degree range, and her lungs failed in such a way that we had to use a machine called ECMO.  ECMO is the heart/lung bypass machine like what is used in open heart surgery… and using it is truly like bringing out the big guns and the last straw at the same time.


At 29 weeks pregnant they had to take the baby (a boy, who survived) because she no was no longer able to properly oxygenate.  Her only hope was a lung transplant, but she was too sick to receive one. 


Yes, this is a somewhat isolated case… the worst of the worst.  But I SAW IT MYSELF and it was something that will never leave me.  I am pregnant now and did not get the flu vaccine this year bc I no longer work in healthcare.  This is a very legitimate concern and I am seriously curbing my time out in public until this settles down.   I am also heavily schooling and reminding my husband about hand hygiene. 





post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 


People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away, mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.  These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs even minutes after the cough/sneeze.  Your nose has hairs in it to trap viruses, etc. so make sure if you are going out in public that you are breathing through your nose, NOT your mouth.   


Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.  Influenza A virus (H1N1 is a subtype of this) can survive on hard, nonporous surfaces (stainless steel, hard plastic) for 24-48 hrs and on porous materials (cloth, paper) for 8-12 hrs in ambient temps.  Virus persistence on surfaces increases up to 72 hrs when those surfaces are moist or wet. 


The virus can easily be transferred to hands from these porous and nonporous surfaces.  To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water using plenty of friction and rinsing.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 



  • Stay out of busy public places as much as possible.
  • Breathe through your nose (NOT your mouth).
  • If you see someone sneezing or coughing, turn around and get out of there for at least 10 minutes.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds, using lots of friction.  Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean hand towel (not the blow dryers).  You may have to carry your own towels.
  • Be careful about touching your face with your hands.  If you must and you can’t clean your hands first, use a tissue as a barrier. 
post #4 of 23

Thanks for posting this here, inna. I am an epidemiologist and considered posting something similar to our due date club. Here in California we're also seeing potentially alarming numbers - definitely a boost in ICU admissions and overall numbers of young, otherwise healthy people seeking care for flu-like illness. The providers I know are saying they haven't seen so much ILI at once in a long time. The data are still coming in, but this looks like a doozy of a season.


I like your straightforward pointers for prevention. At work, I have made it a habit to carry a clean paper towel with me to open doors (I work in a large building with thousands of people) whether I'm heading to the bathroom, a meeting, or to the stairwell. I also washed the water cooler nozzle and handle today -- it was freaking me out thinking about all the people that stick their fingers on it.  :( 

post #5 of 23

Thanks for the anxiety attack. I have to be in public as I am working on a degree and I send my son to public school. Now I will just be panicking that neither of us end up sick or that I don't end up in the ICU because I'm pregnant. :(


I guess either way you go you are never doing the right thing. I wish I could hibernate for the next few months.

post #6 of 23
I'm just curious why you would not get the flu shot just because you no longer work in healthcare? I believe it is recommended for everyone over a certain age for all the reasons you mentioned.
post #7 of 23
You're pregnant, you should get the flu vaccine!
post #8 of 23
I have friend here in Arkansas who is 29 years old, and 20 weeks pregnant. She is now in a medically induced coma, lost her baby, and has a collapsed lung because of the h1n1 flu. She was perfectly healthy before hand. So sad and very scary! Definitely be careful!
Edited by Becka32 - 1/19/14 at 6:29pm
post #9 of 23

I just wanted to jump back on here and say to everyone who reads this: There is no need to panic. I think the original poster just wanted everyone to be aware that we are in the height of flu season and share some tips for keeping yourselves and your families safer.


It does seem to be an active season, but there is no data at this point to indicate that we have a flu emergency, or that this year's circulating strains are any more deadly than other recent flu seasons we've seen. 


As far as the vaccine goes, people have many reasons for why they choose not to receive vaccinations. This year's shot is estimated to be 60-70% effective. It's a personal choice.


So basically, wash your hands, nourish your bodies, and encourage others to stay home if they're sick. But don't freak out - it won't do you any good.


Here's to a healthy and happy winter and spring, and happy, healthy pregnancies.


post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by Katie8681 View Post

You're pregnant, you should get the flu vaccine!

Not necessarily...the flu vaccine increases your risk of miscarriage tenfold. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/study-confirms-anecdotal-link-between-flu-vax-and-miscarriage/


There have been numerous reports of women miscarrying within hours of receiving the flu shot.  Let's just all stay healthy and stay pregnant with the above-mentioned tactics, good nutrition, good hygiene and natural remedies! :)

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Skyler View Post

I'm just curious why you would not get the flu shot just because you no longer work in healthcare? I believe it is recommended for everyone over a certain age for all the reasons you mentioned.

Skyler - I haven't gotten the flu shot mainly because I don't get sick anymore.  This sounds like a weird (and arrogant) reason, so let me explain.  

I was a bit sickly as a teenager and young adult.  I always got colds way more and way worse than my friends... They really knocked me down and 99% of the time turned into a serious bronchitis that took 1-2 months to get over.  It was bad for school and continued on into my working life.  I had one employer accuse me of befriending my nurse practitioner just so she'd write me notes out of work (so I could presumably goof off).  I hated it.  This lasted until I got a job in a hospital as I was attending nursing school. 


I started in the hospital (a lung unit) in 2008 and was told it would make me pretty sick for a while.  I did get lots of colds, a few bad, but not so bad as they used to be.  As time went on the colds got further between.  In 2010 I moved into an ICU (liver and lung) as a nurse and was told that I would soon be "colonized" and probably not have much of that cold stuff anymore.  It was true.  I had my last cold in November of 2010.  I have not had one single respiratory illness (or any illness really) since then.  Apparently when you work in healthcare your immune system keeps a heightened status - I think it's the coolest thing ever. 

I do follow excellent hand hygiene and preach the same to my DH.  He also rarely gets sick (only twice in 15 years, for 3 days each). 

Had I known I'd be pregnant though - and that this year's strain was H1N1 - I would have gotten vaccinated.  I just wasn't on top of it.


I'm in the embryonic period (9th wk) of my pregnancy and just don't want to rock the boat.  I'm 40, and this is our 1st.  I will get a late vaccine in a week or so, as the flu peaks in February around here.  I just want the developmental time not to be tainted by an injection. 

Luckily, I am not working right now and can hunker down at home.  I have been doing so for the last several weeks - just to be safe.  Not my normal style, but that's the best fit for now. 

post #12 of 23
That study is not strong. Much luck to all of you and stay healthy as best as you know how.
post #13 of 23

Well, I'm not pregnant and I don't work in the healthcare industry (I did work in a medical center for a 6 month period years ago).  When I was in my 20's, I got everything in the book.  I even got shingles in my mid 20's!  I generally don't get colds very often anymore, and sometimes I feel like I'm getting one, but my body fights it off pretty well, so I kind of get where you are coming from with this.  


I did end up getting shingles in December, again, so maybe my immune system isn't as great as I hope it is, although almost as soon as I noticed the rashy lesions, they started to heal.  I still had the pain, the itching and burning and all that, but my skin didn't get too bad.

I vaguely remember getting a flu shot during my first pregnancy, when I was about 20 weeks along, but I don't normally get them.  Of course the H1N1 is not a cold, I get that, and I have heard about more deaths from the flu this year.

post #14 of 23
When does flu season end?
post #15 of 23
Sorry, I didn't mean to make you explain yourself, innacircle, although it was really interesting to read! I am totally pro vax, but even i would feel a little paranoid about getting shots during pregnancy. But getting sick during pregnancy also scares me, so
I'm not sure what i would do in your shoes. Everyone in my family gets the flu shot, and i just got lucky in that i happened to get mine the month before getting pregnant. It sounds like you are doing all you can to stay healthy and protect that little bean!
post #16 of 23
Originally Posted by Katie8681 View Post

That study is not strong. Much luck to all of you and stay healthy as best as you know how.

Agreed. If i miscarried after getting the flu shot, i would probably think that was the cause too, but the problem is so many people miscarry anyway you cant just rely on anecdotal reports. Or you could just as easily find a link between eating oatmeal on a thursday and miscarriage.
post #17 of 23
Agreed. The shot probably doesn't cause MC, but I MC after getting it, and even though I am sure it wasn't the shot that caused it, I couldn't do it this time around. I also freaked out when my boss came to my store (MC started right after his visit) and I was wearing the same pants!! So, obviously some choices weren't 100% rational, and I admit that.
post #18 of 23

Thank you @innacircle for posting this! I know some people were scared to learn the reality of what could potentially happen, but it's important to know what you can do to protect yourself and your growing family. I completely agree with staying away from vaccines in the embryonic period, even if there are no studies to confirm that it's a good tactic...it just makes sense :)


I'm constantly inundated with hospital germs, being a pharmacy student out on rotations for the next year. Unfortunately that means 12 different hospitals, 12 different germ pools to choose from...I'm preparing myself to be VERY uncomfortable this entire pregnancy. So thanks for the tips on avoiding germs, it's nice to have a refresher every once in a while! Here's to hoping none of us have anything to worry about! rolleyes.gif

post #19 of 23
Aprilh, I read a cdc quick sheet saying they recommend all pregnant women get the flu vaccine. Do you think there is an optimal time in development to do that?
post #20 of 23

According to the CDC, any time is optimal for a pregnant woman to get the flu shot. There is no evidence to show that one trimester is safer than any other, mostly due to lack of studies in pregnant women. If you're high risk, I would go ahead and get the vaccine now, but for future reference, the second trimester is when development begins to slow down, and the placenta is better formed so any shock is better tolerated. Hope that helps :)

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