SWINE FLU FAQ:
What is swine flu?
Swine influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs
caused by a type of influenza virus. Outbreaks of swine flu
happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu,
but human infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human
cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs but it’s
possible for swine flu viruses to spread from one person to
another. In the United States there were 12 cases of swine flu
in people from 2006 through 2008. In March and April 2009 there
have been many more cases of swine flu than usual in both Mexico
and the U.S. and the infections have spread from one person to
What are the symptoms of swine flu in people?
Swine flu causes symptoms very similar to seasonal (or human)
flu. The most common symptoms of swine flu, like seasonal flu,
are fever, cough, and sore throat and can include body aches,
headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also have diarrhea and
vomiting. There have been some people with swine flu who have
been sicker and have even died.
Is swine flu treatable in people?
People sick with any type of flu should make sure to drink
enough fluids, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, wash hands
frequently and stay home to avoid spreading the flu to other
people. The kinds of drugs used to treat seasonal flu, called
antivirals, can also be used to treat swine flu. There have been
a few influenza viruses, including the most recent swine flu,
that are resistant to some, but not all, of these drugs.
Healthcare providers may recommend that people who are sick or
appear to be sick with swine flu receive an antiviral
How would I know if I have swine flu?
If you have symptoms of influenza as described above, and
especially if you have recently traveled to an area where there
have been human cases of swine flu, contact your healthcare
provider who will decide what type of testing and treatment is
right for you. To diagnose any kind of flu virus, a swab of the
inside of your nose needs to be collected by a doctor.
Identification of a swine flu virus requires special laboratory
If you think you might have swine flu and you need to see your
health care provider, you should call ahead and let them know
you might have the flu. That way, precautions can be taken to
avoid the spread of flu to others.
How can I protect myself and others from swine
You can protect yourself and others from swine flu the same way
that you can protect yourself from seasonal flu. Avoid holding,
hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with anyone who has a cold or
the flu. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use
an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your nose, mouth
or eyes. Clean things that are touched often like door handles,
telephones, etc. If you get sick with a flu-like illness say
home from work and school and avoid contact with others so the
virus does not spread.
All people with swine flu who are not hospitalized, and their
household and other close contacts, will need to stay at home to
prevent spread of illness to other people.
If I have swine flu, can I stay at home?
People with mild or moderate illness can and should be cared for
at home to prevent spread. Things people who have swine flu who
are cared for at home should do include:
· check with their health care provider about any special
care they might need if they are pregnant or have a health
condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema
· check with their health care provider about whether they
should take antiviral medications
· stay home for at least 7 days after onset of illness; or
until free of symptoms (including fever) for 24 hours, which
ever is longer
· get plenty of rest
· drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks,
electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated
· cover coughs and sneezes. Clean hands with soap and water
or an alcohol-based hand rub often and especially after using
tissues and after coughing or sneezing into hands.
· Never cough in the direction of someone else.
· avoid close contact with others – do not go to work or
school while ill
· be watchful for emergency warning signs (see below) that
might indicate you need to seek medical attention
Get medical care right away if the sick person at home:
· has difficulty breathing or chest pain
· has purple or blue discoloration of the lips
· is vomiting and unable to keep liquids down
· has signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing,
absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they
· has seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions) is
less responsive than normal or becomes confused
Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
No. Right now there is no vaccine for swine flu. According to
CDC, it is unlikely that the vaccine for seasonal flu will
prevent swine flu.
Is it safe to cook and eat pork and pork products?
Yes. It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked pork and pork
products. Swine flu viruses are not spread by food. You cannot
get swine flu from eating pork or pork products.