Swine flu alerts world
The U.S. declared a public health emergency Sunday to deal with the emerging swine flu.
Here are some basics on the illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that can spread to humans.
- The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.
- Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions and can vary in severity from mild to severe.
- Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.
Swine flu Q&A
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were reported in Southern California and near San Antonio. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans, and cases have been reported internationally as well.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
How serious is swine flu infection?
Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died eight days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, N.J., occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
What are the signs that a child needs urgent medical attention?
- 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
What are the signs that an adult needs urgent medical attention?
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
Where can I find more information, including updates?
The two main sites are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov, and the World Health Organization, WHO.int.
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention