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The Swine Flu: Prevention Not Panic

News stories about the recent cases of the swine flu in the United States are spreading like wild fire, causing fear in communities across the country.  While you should educate yourself and take measures to prevent the swine flu, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reminds us not to panic.  Instead, take precautions, remain vigilant and adhere to the recommendations from the CDC on how to prevent and minimize the spread of this influenza.

What is the swine flu?
Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by Type A Influenza viruses.  People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen.

What are the symptoms of the swine flu?
The swine flu can cause:
• High Fever
• Cough
• Sore Throat
• Body Aches
• Chills
• Fatigue (feeling tired)
• Vomiting, in some cases
• Diarrhea, in some cases

How is the swine flu spread from person to person?
The swine flu is spread in the same manner as the human seasonal flu.  It is spread by droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.  Breathing in a droplet or touching the surface of an object that the virus is on and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth are ways of transmitting the swine flu virus.

How is the swine flu treated?
The prescription antiviral medications oseltamivir and zanamivir can make symptoms milder and recovery faster.  These drugs are prescription medications that can be administered in pill, liquid and inhaler forms.  These drugs fight the flu by keeping the virus from spreading within your body.  For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started within a day or two of symptoms so it is important to seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.

How is the swine flu diagnosed? What if I get sick?
A laboratory test is used to diagnose the swine flu.  If you suspect that you have the swine flu, stay at home.  Do not go to work, and avoid social activities.  The same applies to your children if you suspect they are sick.  Do not send your child to day care or school and contact your doctor immediately.  If you have been in contact with someone that has the swine flu, contact your doctor.  Your doctor will decide if you should be tested for the swine flu.

How serious is swine flu?
Like seasonal flu, swine flu can vary in intensity from mild to severe.  Like any flu, swine flu can be serious.  Young children, the elderly and the infirm are at higher risk for contracting the virus.  For regular updates on the current outbreak of swine flu, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu.


How can you help prevent the swine flu?
There is no vaccine currently available to protect against swine flu.  There are every-day actions that can be taken to help prevent the spread of these germs.

• Wash your hands frequently.  Wash your hands with soap and water for 15-20 seconds.
• Use antibacterial gels to clean your hands frequently.
• Sneeze or cough into a tissue and throw the tissue away in a wastebasket.
• Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough.
• Wash your hands after touching common objects in your environment, such as doorknobs or desks.
• Do not touch your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Avoid being around people that are sick.
• Stay home if you feel sick.
• Contact your doctor if you suspect you have the swine flu.
• Contact your doctor if you have been in contact with a person that has the swine flu.
• Keep yourself healthy.  Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and get enough sleep.

Can I get swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food.  You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Properly cooked and handled pork products are perfectly safe.

 

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.