Sunday, October 04, 2009

Brought to you by the letters H, N and the number 1

So in all of the H1N1 kerfuffle there is one question I have which has not been answered, or even asked, in any of the coverage I've seen or heard.

How long is the incubation period? By which I mean, how long are you carrying the virus around and spreading it to other people without even realizing that you're ill? How long does one have this virus before actually exhibiting symptoms?

Because depending on what the answer is, all this "wash your hands frequently, yada yada yada" may be completely irrelevant.

I ask this because 2 of my kids (Garrett and Spence) had colds this week. No fever, no body aches, nothing that indicated they had anything other than a head cold. And what with the academic issues we had last year I am hesitant to let a certain 7th grader miss school for anything other than the Black Death or Ebola. So I sent them to school. Sniffles are a normal part of childhood, right?

Saturday morning we got up and headed to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It's an annual tradition for us -- we've been almost every year since Rob and I dated. By early afternoon Spencer was asking to go home, and when we got here around 5, Evan had just ... faded. He was listless, said he didn't feel well, and felt warm-ish. But no fever according to the ear thermometer or the oral (both of which are digital but not that trustworthy IMO).

At midnight he came and got me, saying he thought we was going to be sick, so I sat in the bathroom with him. He said he'd had a nightmare where everything looked smaller than he knew it was and it had freaked him out. The phenomena kept happening while he was awake - his eyes would glaze over and knees would tremble violently. And that freaked out the mama. A quick temp check said he was 102 degrees, with flushed cheeks and that awful glassy, feverish look in his eyes. The nausea passed and he asked if he could have a bath. At 12:30. Poor guy. I said of course, he soaked in the tub for quite some time while I caught up on email. (I know, but he just wanted to lie there in the warm bubbly water...)

I posted a Facebook status that said I had a sick kid (well, 3, because a sore throat and a cough had also materialized during the evening) and a friend who is an ER nurse here at Mayo said they were seeing it a lot. Her assessment was that it was likely H1N1 and that it usually runs its course in 5 days.

And that leaves me with more questions. We didn't interact with a ton of people yesterday, but did we make them sick, too? What if Garrett is sick and unable to join his classmates for the fall campout? What if Evan continues with the fever but no one else has a fever tomorrow -- do I send the "healthy" kids to school or quarantine in anticipation of them developing a fever in the next few days? How do I get my possibly toxic husband who rarely takes a sick day (he has taken perhaps 3 in 15 years at this company) to stay home so he doesn't spread this stuff through his corporate environment?


From the CDC, a comprehensive website with a great FAQ:

People with the H1N1 flu are likely contagious for a day before symptoms appear, and for 5-7 days after they appear. One should be fever-free for 24 hours without a fever reducing medication before returning to work or school.

Rob can go to work, paying special attention to hand washing and his own symptoms -- if symptoms appear he should then stay home. (Although I am not telling him this -- he can do telecons from home and I am going to suggest that.)

As for the kids, it turns out that some people exhibit respiratory symptoms without a fever. Spence and Garrett seem to be fitting that bill, so they'll be home for a few days, too (although with no fever I am not sure how to tell when they can go back to school).

It could be worse. We are pushing fluids, resting and staying warm, and avoiding human contact. It's kind of like February has come early at our house. LOL


  1. I have a sore throat and body aches without a fever too. Not fun at all.

  2. I believe that I had this last week as well. It did take about 6 days for me to feel somewhat normal again. I had very similar symptoms to what you've described, but so far my kids have only had the cough/runny nose.

    Actually, I was quite afraid that I would pass it on to Heather's kids, who were here visiting last weekend. I hope that isn't why she is now sick. : (

  3. Hmmm. I have had this same thing. I wonder if I have H1N1 too. Ah, well, I am resting and drinking fluids. I will be all better by fall break in the Dells!!