The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) is working to monitor and prevent the swine flu outbreak. The human swine flu outbreak continues to grow in the United States and internationally.
What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.
- 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 hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
How common is swine flu infection in humans?
In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.
What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
How does swine flu spread?
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs.
Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Stay current with the latest Swine Flu news at the CDC website
In response to questions received at ClevelandSeniors.Com, we asked Christopher J. Woolverton, Ph.D. of the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University.
Q. Seniors (and others) have been well trained to receive an annual flu shot. If we got our flu shot, are we safe from this new flu?
A. This (swine) flu virus is “new” and as such the annual flu vaccines do not work against it.
Q. Is there any particular risk to senior citizens in either catching this flu or suffering worse effects?
A. There is not enough information to know if this swine flu is worse than the seasonal flu viruses. Flu viruses in general can trigger secondary complications in the elderly, so precaution is advised—good hand hygiene and covering one’s cough.
Q. What can we do to protect ourselves? Do we need to avoid people? Wear masks?
A. As of right now, the best protection is good hand hygiene and covering one’s cough. Masks will not help as they do not stop the virus from getting to the respiratory tract.
Q. Are there preventative medicines we can take?
A. There are medicines to prevent the flu but taking them with no virus to fight does not help. They are often used for lessening symptoms once you have the flu.
Q. Will my regular doctor have the latest information and medication for this?
A. Yes, the docs should have updated info as it is generated by the OH Dept. of Health and sent out.
Q. The symptoms we hear about in the media seem sort of vague (we always feel that way! ). Can you tell us what exactly to look for symptom-wise?
A. The symptoms are vague in that they represent an average. Most people will have aches, pains, sore throat, fever, and loss of appetite. Some people will not have some of these, others will have worse symptoms. That’s why the average albeit vague symptoms are noted.
Q. What steps should we take if we feel we have the virus?
A. If someone suspects that they have the flu, that person should contact their personal physician to receive advise. In some cases it may be that the person will be seen by the doc. In other cases, the person may be sent to a specialized clinic or hospital for testing.