Swine Influenza and what you need to know                 Main Page                  Home

What is swine flu?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virusses that causes regular out-
breaks in pigs.  People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen.  Swine flue viruses have
been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyound
three people.


Are there human infections with swine flue in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenze A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in
Southern California and near San Antionio, Texas.  Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans
and cases have been reported internationally as well.  An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United
States is kept at http://www.cd.gov/swineflu/investiagion.htm CDC and local and state health agencies are working together
to investigate this situation.

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 may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Symptoms of swine flu

Lack of appetite
Running nose
Sore throat

Image: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers in the Emergency Operations Center to
augment the CDC ongoing investigation of human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) during the |2009"swine flu out-
break in the United States

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

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after be-
coming sick.  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.

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.  From treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon
after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic
and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset.  Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious
for longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
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.

How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks.  
Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu.  There are everyday actions that can help prevent the
spread of germs that causes respiratory illness like influenza.  Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
* 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 hand cleaners are also
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to
  keep from infecting them.  

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible.  Do not go to work or school if ill.  Cover your
mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  It may prevent those around you from getting sick.  Put your
used tissue in the waste basket.  Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue.  Then, clean your hand, and do
so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hand often will help protect you from germs.  Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand
cleaner.  We recommended that when you wash your hand -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds.  
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.  You can find
them in most supermarkets and drugstores.  If using gel, rub your hand until the gel is dry.  The gel does'nt need water to work;
the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

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, bode aches, runny nose, soar throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care pro-
vider, particular if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing
or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading
your illness to others.

If you become ill and experience any of the following signs, seek emergency medical care.

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
Severe or persistent vomiting

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 occuring. 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 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occured 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. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.
Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Reference: www.cdc.gov