Am I in danger of contracting h1n1 (swine flu) after recent surgery?

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 05, 2009
A fellow caregiver asked...

I had a hysterectomy two months ago and my husband was just told he has the h1n1 virus by his doctor. As his only caregiver, am I in any danger?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Did your husband's doctor test him for swine flu?  Are his symptoms severe?  Hopefully, he will have a mild case and recover without any problems.  Be sure that he gets plently of fluids so he does not get dehydrated.

As with any flu, you are at risk to get it if you are in close contact with your husband.  Since your surgery was 2 months ago, you should be feeling stronger by now.  I don't think that you should be any more at risk at this point. 

However, you still need to protect yourself, so you may want to wear a mask (you can buy these in the drugstore) when you are taking care of him or in close contact with him.  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after you are with him.   Limit your contact with him if you can.  For instance, I would sleep in a separate bed if you can (unless it is not safe for you to do so), until his flu is over. Tell him to cover his mouth when he coughs.   He should be feeling better in 5 to 7 days, unless the flu is severe.  When he is better, clean his room surfaces well and change/ wash the sheets, and you should be OK.  Good luck!