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Cold and Flu

How long is H1N1 Flu contagious?

10/19/2009

Question:

My workplace has a policy that people have to stay home for 24 hours after the fever goes down before returning to work. But I am not convinced that they are not still contagious at that point. There is an outbreak of H1N1 flu going around (I work on a college campus and a number of students have it). Employees who only stay home for 1 day with a fever and flu symptoms come back in and they`re hacking and coughing and still look and sound awful, and many people around them seem to come down with the same symptoms shortly after. Is that really long enough for people with H1N1 flu to stay home from work to keep from spreading it around?

Answer:

In regards to the H1N1 influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay home for 24 hours after they have no fever without temperature-lowering medications. (http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exclusion.htm). There are respiratory illnesses other than H1N1 influenza that are making people ill. I recommend that employees stay home until most of their symptoms are gone so that they do not cause their colleagues to become ill.

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Response by:

John  Andrews, MD, MPH John Andrews, MD, MPH
Assistant Senior Vice President Medical Center
Director University Health Services
University of Cincinnati