Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Influenza A (H1N1)General Information

This is how you become infected with influenza
[Droplet infection]

A healthy person may become infected by breathing in virus expelled with saliva, etc., when an infected person coughs, sneezes, spits, etc.

[Contact Infection]

If after covering a sneeze or cough or wiping a snivel with his/her hand(s), an infected person then touches something else (a desk/table, doorknob, train/bus hand strap, light switch, etc.), the virus may adhere to the object(s) touched.
If after touching the virus adhering to such objects, a healthy person then touches his/her eyes, nose or mouth, that person may then become infected through the mucus membrane, conjunctiva, etc.

The symptoms of influenza are
  • May have a cough or running nose
  • May experience a sudden high fever, a feeling of fatigue all over the body, a headache, muscle ache, etc.
  • Since Influenza A (H1N1) could possibly cause a change in the symptoms of influenza, there is a possibility that the symptoms will change with new cases.
How to avoid contracting influenza
  • Please refrain from going out unnecessarily (especially to places where people gather).
  • If you have been out, please gargle and wash your hands.
[Proper Etiquette When Coughing]
  • Please stay at least one meter away from surrounding people.
    The droplet spray from a cough or sneeze is expelled over a distance of up to about two meters.
  • Please cover your mouth with a tissue and turn your face away.
    If you are not wearing a mask, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, etc., turn your face away from other people and stay at least one meter away from surrounding people.
  • If you have been out, please gargle and wash your hands.
    Please wash your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds. After washing, dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel, paper towels, etc.
  • Discard the tissue used to cover your mouth in a wastebasket.
  • If you used your hands to cover a cough or sneeze, please wash your hands right away.
    If you have covered a cough or sneeze with your hands, please wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap.
  • Please wear a mask.
    If you are coughing or sneezing, please wear a mask. In addition, if there is someone in your family or at work who is coughing, but not wearing a mask, please encourage them to wear a mask.
What is Influenza A (H1N1)
[Difference with Conventional Influenza Strains]

Since no one has immunity against Influenza A (H1N1), it is conceivable that, compared with conventional strains of influenza, infection will more readily become widespread and many more people will become infected with Influenza A (H1N1). Therefore, it will be necessary to implement ample measures to prevent the spread of infection.

[What Are the Forms of Medical Treatments?]
  • The main form of treatment is the administration of anti-viral drugs for influenza (Tamiflu, Relenza).
  • At the present time, Japan has a stockpile of Tamiflu adequate to treat about 33,800,000 people.
[Gathering Information Is Important]
  • The national and municipal governments are publicizing information on the state of the outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1) as the situation demands. It is necessary to make an effort to gather such information.
  • Please do not be confused or deceived by unreliable information or rumors, but gather accurate information and respond calmly without panicking.
  • Since anyone could possibly contract Influenza A (H1N1), please do not hold prejudices or discriminate against Influenza A (H1N1) patients.
If you think you have contracted influenza
To prevent the infectious outbreak from growing and spreading
  • Please refrain from going out unnecessarily (especially to places where people gather).
  • If you have been out, please gargle and wash your hands.
  • If you develop symptoms, please prevent spreading the virus by wearing a mask.
  • Since a mask alone cannot prevent the spread of infection completely, please also practice other methods of infection prevention, such as not standing close to other people and having other people keep their distance from you.
If you or a family member contracts Influenza A (H1N1)

(1) If there is a possibility that you have been infected, please do not call a medical institution, but instead telephone the fever consultation center set up in your district Public Health Center, etc., and have a medical examination performed at a designated medical institution.

(2) When receiving a medical examination at a medical institution, please be sure to telephone in advance to inquire about consultation hours, the entrance to use, etc.

(3) Please wear a mask when visiting a medical institution for a medical examination. In the event that you do not have a mask, please endeavor to practice “cough etiquette” and take care not to spread infection to people in the area surrounding you.

(4) Please avoid using public means of transportation (trains, buses, etc.) and as much as possible use your own car, etc. If no appropriate means of transportation is available to you, please inquire regarding the matter at the fever consultation center.

(5) If it is confirmed that you are infected, you will be hospitalized and receive medical treatment.

(6) People living with you and others with a high possibility of being infected should restrict their activities outside the home and are required by law to report on their health condition to their district Public Health Center. In addition, since, depending on the situation, an anti-influenza drug (Tamiflu, etc.) may be distributed, please pay close attention to the explanation provided by the Public Health Center.

[Points of Heed When Caring for Patients]
  • Patients should rest in a room separate from other family members, as much as possible, and wear a mask and endeavor to practice cough etiquette.
  • Family members should carefully and frequently wash their hands and gargle and wear a mask.
  • After caring for a patient, please be sure to wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them using an alcohol-based agent.
  • Cups, dishes, utensils and clothing used by the patient can be disinfected using ordinary detergents.
The effects of an influenza epidemic on society

The following may be demanded as a result of an influenza epidemic.

  • Restriction of activities outside the home by patients, people living with them and others with a high possibility of being infected
  • Restriction of activities outside the home by people in the community, to reduce opportunities for person-to-person contact
  • Temporary closure of schools, etc.
  • Reduction or suspension of operations by companies
  • Cancellation or postponement of meetings, events, concerts, etc.
  • Restrictions on returning home from and travel to areas of widespread infection
[Announcement of Information about Risks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]

Regarding countries, territories and regions where infection has occurred, we foresee that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue “Infection Risk Information” using the following pattern, according to the respective phases declared by the WHO. (However, depending on the speed of the growth of outbreaks, notices may not necessarily be issued according to the order in the following pattern. Furthermore, Infection Risk Information will be provided regarding countries, territories and regions with no infection breaks as well, taking into consideration the state of the global spread of infection and local conditions for medical care.)

It is difficult to accurately predict the timing, scale and speed of growth of Influenza A (H1N1) outbreaks. Therefore, it is possible that infection outbreaks will spread faster than expected. Consequently, people traveling abroad should please routinely pay attention to the latest information related to Influenza A (H1N1) in the countries, territories or regions to which they will travel or where they will stay. Depending on the situation, please endeavor to be able to respond quickly according to local conditions, using your own judgment, without waiting for Infection Risk Information to be issued.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Q&A Concerning Avian Influenza and Influenza A (H1N1) for Overseas Travelers