(Oct. 5, 2009) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has set up a new toll-free hotline for the public who have questions related to 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) and seasonal flu. The toll-free hotline number is 1(877)843-7727, and it will operate from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Information on the H1N1 virus is also readily available by visiting the redesigned Health Alerts Web site at http://healthalerts.ky.gov.
The flu hotline will be staffed by nurses and administered by Kosair Children’s Hospital, a part of Norton Healthcare, through a contract with DPH funded by a federal grant award related to H1N1 activities. Kosair Children’s Hospital also operates the state's Regional Poison Center hotline. The flu hotline will be active through at least the end of December.
The Health Alerts Web site has also been relaunched in an easy-to-navigate format, and will be updated daily with new information about swine flu, seasonal flu and flu vaccines, as well as any other breaking health news. It includes resources for families and individuals, health care professionals, schools and day cares, other community organizations and business owners. It also provides information for the media.
Kentucky was eligible to begin ordering 24,300 doses of nasal spray H1N1 vaccine last week, and expects shipments to begin arriving as early as today. The nasal spray vaccine can be taken by healthy individuals ages 2-49. The first doses will be targeted mainly at health care workers under age 40 who are healthy, with broader availability as supplies increase. The H1N1 flu shot vaccine is expected to be available mid- to late October, with vaccine clinics for the public likely to be scheduled in early November.
The symptoms of both seasonal and H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough, body aches, and may include vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals at higher risk for complications—such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant—should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.
Common sense precautions to prevent illness include: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.
For more information on seasonal and swine flu, visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter.