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Everything You Need to Know About Swine Flu

Symptoms of Swine Flu

Everything You Need to Know About Swine Flu

What are Swine Flu Symptoms and how can it be prevented? Are you in danger of contracting the disease?

With swine flu (or swine influenza) a concern on many people's minds, you need to be aware of the symptoms of swine flu and how you can prevent it. Read on to get answers to your questions about swine flu.

Everything You Need to Know About Swine Flu

Q. What is swine flu?

A. Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory illness in pigs. It is caused by viruses that cause regular outbreaks in pigs. It is unusual for humans to get swine flu, but it does and has happened (as the outbreak several years ago shows). Even though swine flu has previously been reported in people, it was very limited and never passed beyond more than three people. The outbreak from several years ago was particularly unusual.

Q. What are the symptoms of swine flu?

A. Swine flu symptoms vary, much like the symptoms of regular flu: a fever, cough, chills, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting among their symptoms. Severe illness have resulted from swine flu, and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people.

Q. Can people get swine flu?

A. Yes. Even though swine flu viruses don't usually infect humans, there have been occasional cases, usually among farm workers or others who had had direct contact with infected pigs. Previous cases stemmed from direct pig contact. The most recent outbreak seems to be different to flu experts.

Q. How does swine flu spread?

A. Spread of the swine flu virus is thought to happen the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing and sneezing by infected people. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning a day before symptoms appear and up to 7 or more days after becoming noticeably ill. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Q. Are there drugs to treat swine flu in humans?

A. Yes. However, two of the four different drugs approved in the U.S. to treat the flu do not work effectively. The new swine flu virus has shown resistance to the two oldest drugs. The CDC recommends the use of the flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza (oseltamivir or zanamivir).

These drugs are antiviral drugs, prescription medicine that fights against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing once in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and your recovery faster. They may also prevent serious complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. Antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within two days of symptoms), so it is important to see a medical professional as soon as you have symptoms.

Q. Does a regular flu shot protect against swine flu?

A. The normal seasonal flu vaccine used in the United States this year will not provide protection against the latest swine flu virus. There is a separate vaccine for H1N1, the virus that caused the swine flu outbreak.

It is important that you get vaccinated for H1N1 if you think you'll be at risk for contracting the virus. The vaccine can be given through a shot or through a nasal spray, depending on your preference. The nasal spray may be ideal for children who are nervous with needles, but talk to your healthcare professional before making a firm decision.

The H1N1 vaccine is especially important for those who are particularly vulnerable. Vulnerable groups include those over the age of 65, the immunocompromised, and young children.

Q. Is there anything I can do to avoid getting swine flu?

A. First and most important: wash your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. Wash with soap and warm water and wash your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry.

Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, and then touches their own eyes, mouth, or nose before washing their hands.

Some viruses can live for 2 hours or longer outside the body. Handwashing is crucial to avoid contamination.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then be sure to throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless to cover a cough or sneeze. Wash your hands immediately after.

Q. What should I do if I get sick?


If you get sick with the swine flu, see a health care professional immediately. The CDC recommends that you stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them, further spreading the virus.

If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with swine flu symptoms (fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea), you should contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

Do not turn to home remedies in an attempt to treat yourself. Many of these remedies lack any science behind them, and may end up making your condition worse. Only listen to the advice that is given to you by a medical professional. They have the most knowledge on what treatments are genuinely effective for H1N1.

**If you become ill and experience any of the following swine flu symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • 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

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Q. Is contracting the swine flu serious?

A. It depends. Swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were identified in the U.S. No deaths occurred. However, swine flu infection can be deadly. In September 1988, a woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died. In 1976 there was a swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey. It caused 200 cases with serious illness in several people; one person died. It is estimated that anywhere from 150,000 to over half a million people died globally from H1N1.

Q. Can I get swine flu from eating or preparing pork?

A. No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe; take normal cooking precautions as with any raw meat.

Simply washing your hands properly, getting the H1N1 vaccine, and avoiding those known to have the virus will significantly reduce your risk for this disease.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. At the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

The content of this article should not be taken as professional medical advice. It is important to do your own due diligence on matters pertaining to your health. Always consult with a medical professional before making any decisions that impact or involve your health or the health of your family.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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