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Microsoft word - web swine flu q&a
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Swine Flu Questions & Answers
What is swine flu?
Swine influenza 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. Swine flu jumps to humans
most often among people who are around pigs. The virus becomes a bigger threat when it acquires the
ability to be transmitted person to person. 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 viruses were first
reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. As of April 28, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention has confirmed 64 cases, (as of 4-28-09, p.m.), of swine flu in the United States. So far,
the outbreak is limited to five states: 10 cases in California, 45 in New York, six in Texas, one in Ohio
and two cases in Kansas. Are there human infections with swine flu in the Missouri?
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ State Public Health Laboratory is receiving
nasal swab samples from health care providers across the state taken from individuals with flu-like
symptoms. However, as of the afternoon of April 28, no cases of swine flu have been confirmed. 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. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may
cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Some people have reported diarrhea and
vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, swine flu has led to medical complications, including
pneumonia and respiratory failure. 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 and is thought to occur in the same way as
seasonal flu. Influenza is thought to spread primarily person to person through coughing or sneezing by
infected people. Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. Public health officials recommend the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or
prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. These antiviral drugs are prescription
medicines 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. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started within two days of
How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with the swine influenza virus infection become contagious the day before they begin feeling
ill. They should be considered potentially contagious as long as they have symptoms and for possibly
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 to protect against swine flu. But everyday actions can help prevent the
spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these steps to protect your health:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people. • If you get the flu, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 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. Germs spread this way.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you have recently traveled to areas currently reporting swine flu cases, or have been in direct contact
with someone who has, and believe you are becoming ill with influenza-like symptoms, contact a local
health care provider. Symptoms include fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting
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:
• 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
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. How can I gain additional information?
To learn more about swine flu, and for more details on the state and federal investigation, please visit
Missouri’s swine influenza web site at www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/_SwineFlu09.html.
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