Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
October 30, 2009 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
H1N1 doesn't have to be scary
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
We all know the drill — we wake up in the morning with a scratchy throat, maybe slight coughing and when we take our temperature we have a slight fever.

But we go to work anyway because there is so much to do and so many people are counting on us.

I'm here to tell you — if you think there is a possibility you have the flu, whether the new H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu, please stay home for 24 hours after your fever subsides.

H1N1 is not more dangerous than the seasonal flu, but very few of us have immunity so if you bring it into your workplace it is more likely to spread to others than the seasonal flu. Vaccine is coming and is being manufactured and delivered as quickly as possible, but it will take several weeks before there is enough supply to inoculate all who need it.

That means that it is more important than ever that each of us take responsibility for protecting our families, our communities, our coworkers and our clients by staying home when we are sick, killing H1N1 germs by washing our hands well and frequently, and covering our cough so that we don't spread the virus to others.

One question I hear is how we know if we have H1N1 flu or just regular flu. The truth is that it doesn't matter — the treatment for the new flu is the same as the old one.

For most people, this flu is not more dangerous than the regular seasonal flu. People who contract H1N1 will have flu symptoms for 7-10 days, and then get better. For the overwhelming majority, the best treatment is to stay home, get plenty of rest and fluids, and treat the fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Just like with other flu, in a few rare cases, medical care will be required. Go to flu.oregon.gov for information about whether symptoms call for medical care.

One of the most important tools we have against H1N1 is information. The Oregon Public Health Division has been the central point of contact for many people across the state as they need to know more about how to keep from getting ill — and how to get better.

As part of that public information campaign, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new, improved version of flu.oregon.gov that is more consumer friendly and easier to navigate. Please check it out and urge your clients, friends and family to do the same and let us know what you think. Also, the statewide influenza hotline at 1-800-978-3040 can answer basic questions about the flu and vaccine in nearly any language so if you have clients for who English is second language, this is a good resource.

Armed with the facts — what to do and where to go for help — we will get through this flu season.

DHS on the web