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Washington County Health System
  Swine Flu


Microscopic images of the H1N1 influenza virus

The swine flu (swine influenza A (H1N1) virus) is an evolving situation, and Washington County Health System remains on high alert. We want you to know how to minimize the chance that you or a family member will contract the disease, as well as what to do should someone in your family become ill. Rest assured that our healthcare professionals are here to answer questions, diagnose symptoms, and treat possible H1N1 flu cases as well as other illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2009 H1N1 flu affects those younger than twenty-five years of age more than older people. There have been fewer H1N1 flu cases and deaths reported in people sixty-five years and older, which is unusual when compared with seasonal flu.  However, pregnancy and other underlying health conditions appear to be associated with an increased risk of complications from the 2009 H1N1. These underlying conditions include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive disorders, and neuromuscular disorders.

Your first defense against the H1N1 influenza virus is to be vaccinated. The Washington County Health Department has received its first shipment of the H1N1 vaccine, intended for at-risk populations. Additional shipments are expected throughout the flu season. In order to better protect our patients, Washington County Hospital employees are being strongly urged to receive vaccinations against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus, and most have already received their seasonal flu vaccinations. In addition, we are implementing new visitation policies to minimize the chance that a hospital visitor will expose a patient to the H1N1 virus. The most important change is that visitors to any part of the hospital must be at least eighteen years of age or older, unless they have special emergency visitation privileges arranged through the patient’s nurse. To view our updated visitation information, please click here.

If you missed the recent public forum at which Dr. John Newby provided updated information about the H1N1 influenza virus, more information is on the way. Dr. Newby will be the featured guest on the Health Matters radio show on Tuesday, October 27, at 9:30 am to talk about the H1N1 flu and to answer caller questions. Tune into WJEJ (AM 1240) or WCHA (AM 800) to listen.


Should you or a family member become ill, below are guidelines to help you decide on the most appropriate care.

When to call your doctor or seek urgent care
If you have mild flu-like symptoms with a fever less than 100° F (37.8°C), or no fever at all, stay home and recover. Call your primary care physician with any questions. If you do not have a primary care physician and want the reassurance of speaking to a healthcare provider, call our Urgent Care advice line at 800-274-0499.

If you have a flu-like illness, including a fever of more than 100° F (37.8°C) and a cough or sore throat then stay at home and call your primary care physician immediately. If your physician is unavailable, or you do not have a primary care physician, go to one of our two Urgent Care locations. Both our Robinwood and Sylvania Urgent Care facilities operate seven days a week from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

When to go to the Emergency Department

The Emergency Department is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you experience any swine flu warning signs listed below, go immediately to our Emergency Department.

Worrisome swine flu warning signs in children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Worrisome swine flu warning signs in adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Washington County Health System is working closely with local, state, and federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor for cases of the swine flu. Since the swine flu is believed to be spread mainly from person to person, take simple precautions to avoid germs. Remember, vaccination, thorough hand washing, covering your coughs and sneezes, and avoiding contact with sick people are the most effective ways of preventing disease.

For additional information, contact your primary healthcare provider or the Washington County Health Department at 240-313-3210.

October 27, 2009
Swine Flu Update 
26:08 minutes Launch Player download
May 19, 2009
Swine Flu 
25:17 minutes Launch Player download


© 2009
Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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