Some information on Swine Flu.

1.What is swine influenza?
Swine influenza (also called swine flu or pig flu) is a group of influenza viruses that usually infects pigs. Infections in humans are uncommon. The current swine flu which is infecting people is a new strain of influenza A/H1N1. It is not certain how it developed. It’s genetic makeup shows parts of human flu, avian (bird) flu and swine flu.

2.What are the symptoms of swine flu?
The symptoms are expected to be similar to that of regular human seasonal influenza: fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and coughing. Some reports indicate infected people may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

3.How can I prevent getting sick?
By observing good hygiene. Avoid people who are obviously sick. Be sure to wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face, and if you do, be sure your hands are clean.

wash-hands

 4.What is the infectious period?
The infectious period for this strain is not yet known. According to the US CDC, infected people should be considered potentially contagious:
– one day before their symptoms start
– seven days after their symptoms start OR as long as they are still showing symptoms (whichever is longer)
Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

5.What is the incubation period?
The “incubation period” is the time between when a person was exposed to the virus and when they start having symptoms. The incubation period for this strain is not yet known.
With seasonal flu, people develop symptoms within about 4 days of infection. However, for this new strain of flu, the incubation period may be longer. US CDC is currently advising people to monitor their health for 7 days after possible exposure.

6.Is there a vaccine?
There is no specific vaccine against this swine flu. Regular seasonal flu vaccine is unlikely to provide protection against this strain. Nevertheless, those who have not had a seasonal flu vaccine should consider doing so.
As a general good health practice, people should make sure all their routine vaccinations are up-to-date. This includes pneumococcal vaccination for certain adults. This vaccine is usually recommended for all people over 65 years old and younger people with serious long-term health problems (heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism, COPD, emphysema, asthma, cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS). This CDC information can help people work with their doctor to decide if vaccination is the right choice for them.

7.Is there only one type of swine flu virus?
No. Like all human influenza viruses, swine influenza viruses change constantly. There are four main influenza type A virus “subtypes” which have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. The most common strain found in pigs is the H1N1 virus. However, sometimes pigs can be infected with more than one virus type at a time. This gives the genes from the viruses an opportunity to mix and “reassort” to form a new virus.

8.Can humans get sick with swine flu?
Yes. Human infections are uncommon, but have occurred in the past. Human infections with swine flu is more common in individuals who have direct exposure (close contact) with pigs. The new strain that began circulating in April 2009 can move from person to person, and so more people than usual are being infected.

9.Can swine flu be spread from human-to-human?
Yes, sometimes. Historical evidence shows human-to-human transmission of swine flu has occurred. In 1988, in Wisconsin USA, multiple human infections were reported after an apparent outbreak of swine flu in pigs. No community outbreak was ever officially announced, but there was serological evidence to show that the patient (who had direct contact with infected pigs) transmitted the virus to the treating health care workers.
The current swine flu H1N1 strain that has infected people in several countries in 2009 also moves person to person. Most cases had no contact with pigs.

9.How does swine flu spread?
Typically, swine flu can be spread from pigs to humans, and from humans to pigs. That is more likely to occur when people have close contact (or are in close proximity) with infected pigs.
If a swine flu virus mutates to a form that can move from person-to-person, it is likely to spread in the same ways traditional seasonal flu spreads between people. It’s called “droplet” spread. When an infectious individual coughs, sneezes, talks, etc. they expel contaminated droplets. If these droplets get into someone else’s mouth, eyes or nose, that person can become infected with the flu.
These droplets can also get on objects like doorknobs, counters, desks, armrests etc. People also become infected by touching surfaces that have the flu virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. This is why personal hygiene is critical to staying well.
It may also be possible that influenza spreads via “aerosol” transmission, where the where the virus floats in the air and infects people (particularly in crowded places).

10.Can I catch swine flu from eating pork or pork products?
No. Swine flu viruses cannot be transmitted by food. It is safe to eat pork and pork products that have been properly handled and/or sufficiently cooked. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F (or 72°C) kills the swine flu virus as well as other viruses and bacteria.

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