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Swine Flu Frequently Asked Questions
(As reported by the Center for Disease Control)
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (H1N1) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses.
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 person to
person also.
Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1)
viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. New cases
continue to be confirmed daily. For updated information on cases visit the CDC website at CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this 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, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
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
occurring. 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 occurred in
1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.
How do you catch swine flu?
Spread of swine flu can occur in two ways:
 Through contact with infected pigs or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses.  Through contact with a person with swine flu. Human-to-human spread of swine flu has been documented also and is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Will the seasonal flu vaccine protect against swine flu?

Swine flu is a specific type of flu (H1N1) which was not included in this year’s seasonal flu
vaccine. Therefore, the seasonal flu vaccine will not provide protection against the current form
of swine flu.
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 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
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?

Antiviral medications can sometimes help lessen influenza symptoms, but require a
prescription. Most people do not need these antiviral drugs to fully recover from the flu.
However, persons at higher risk for severe flu complications, or those with severe flu illness
who require hospitalization, might benefit from antiviral medications. CDC recommends the
use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) for the treatment 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.
Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also
prevent serious flu complications. In some instances, antivirals may also be given to prevent
illness. Ask your healthcare provider whether you need antiviral medication.

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 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 cause respiratory illnesses 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  Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze and before eating. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.  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. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Should people wear masks?
CDC has developed interim guidance on the use of face masks and respirators. Detailed
information on the guidance can be found at the CDC website.
In areas with confirmed human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, the risk
for infection can be reduced through a combination of simple actions. No single action will
provide complete protection, but an approach combining the following steps can help
decrease the likelihood of transmission. These actions include frequent handwashing,
covering coughs, and having ill persons stay home, except to seek medical care, and
minimize contact with others in the household. Additional measures that can limit
transmission of a new influenza strain include voluntary home quarantine of members of
households with confirmed or probable swine influenza cases, reduction of unnecessary
social contacts, and avoidance whenever possible of crowded settings.
When it is absolutely necessary to have close contact with persons who might be ill, the time
spent in that setting should be as short as possible. If used correctly, facemasks and
respirators can help prevent some exposures, but they should be used along with other
preventive measures, such as avoiding close contact and maintaining good hand hygiene.

What should I do if I get sick?
If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose,
sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care
provider, particularly 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 warning signs, seek emergency
medical care.
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
 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 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
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.

Should I restrict travel to locations where swine flu is present?

CDC has recommended that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico at this time. If you
are planning travel, check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health website for travel recommendations
and guidelines.

If you have specific questions that have not been answered you can contact the ODH
Swine Flu Hotline at 866-800-1404.


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