Frequently asked questions—swine flu
Frequently Asked Questions—Swine Flu
What is swine flu?
“Swine flu” is an Influenza A virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and
they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu
that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called “swine flu,” it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
What is Public Health– Seattle & King County doing now?
Public Health is actively working with hospitals and health care providers to promptly identify
potential cases of swine flu and to assure that if cases are identified that appropriate treatment
and measures to prevent transmission to others are used.
Should swine flu be detected in King County, it does not necessarily indicate that severe illnesses
will result. However, since it is not possible to predict at this time if the swine flu outbreak will
worsen or remain mild, Public Health is working to be sure that our community is prepared in
case the situation becomes more serious.
What are the symptoms of swine flu?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include
fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people with swine flu
also reported diarrhea and vomiting. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory
failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Similar to seasonal flu,
swine flu may make chronic medical conditions worse
When should I seek medical care?
If you have not
traveled to an area where swine flu is occurring in the 7 days before becoming ill
and you have not
had close contact with an ill person who recently returned from an area where
swine flu is occurring, you do not need to seek medical care for swine flu evaluation.
Consult with a health care provider promptly or seek medical care for the following flu-like
• Fever for three days or more with no explanation
• Person is unresponsive and unable to get out of bed • Bad sore throat
• Chest pain
If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required.
• Runny nose or nasal stuffiness
• Low-grade fever for less than 3 days
Does Public Health have guidelines about who should seek medical care?
At this time, Public Health - Seattle & King County recommends people make decisions about when to seek medical care as they would under normal circumstances.
• If you have not
traveled to an area where swine flu is occurring in the 7 days before
becoming ill and you have not
had close contact with an ill person who recently returned
from an area where swine flu is occurring, you do not need to seek medical care for
swine flu evaluation.
• If you are feeling ill with flu-like symptoms, seek medical care as you would under
ordinary circumstances. If you have traveled recently, mention this to your health care provider.
• If you recently returned from an area where there are confirmed swine flu cases and feel
ill with flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider for advice. Public Health does not recommend people with mild symptoms seek medical care just because they have traveled to areas where swine flu has been reported. If your health care provider thinks your symptoms require medical evaluation, swine flu testing might be appropriate.
• If you feel ill with flu-like symptoms have had close contact with an ill person who
recently returned from an area where swine flu is occurring, contact your health care provider for advice. Public Health does not recommend people with mild symptoms seek medical care just because they have had contact with an ill person from an area where swine flu has been reported. If your health care provider thinks your symptoms require medical evaluation, swine flu testing might be appropriate.
If you get sick with influenza
• If you get sick, Public Health - Seattle & King County strongly recommends that you stay
home from work or school so you can get better and keep others from getting sick.
• Also, if you get sick remain at home and avoid contact with others until seven days after
your first symptoms began or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
Everyday behaviors to stay healthy
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you
don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. • Avoid close contact with sick people
• Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your
stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
What can I do now to get prepared at home or work for a more serious influenza
This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a more serious influenza
• Store water, food and other essentials. In a pandemic, you should avoid contact with
other people as much as possible, including trips to the store. Prepare to get by on for at least two weeks on what you have at home
• Store medical and health supplies such as cough syrup, soap, and pain relief medicines. • At work, know employer policies about sick leave, and ask your employer what your
business will do if there is a pandemic.
• At home, decided who will take care of children if schools are closed.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
The CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is
spreading from human to human. At this time, however, it is not known how easily the virus
spreads between people.
How does swine flu spread?
This swine influenza A (H1N1) virus appears to be spreading in the same way that seasonal flu
spreads. Flu viruses are mostly spread from one person to by coughing or sneezing of an infected
person. Sometimes people get infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then
touching their mouth or nose.
How does someone with the flu infect someone else?
Influenza spreads person-to-person mainly through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Infected people may infect others beginning at least one day before symptoms develop and up to
seven or more days after becoming sick. You can pass on the flu to someone else before you
know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of
sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with
people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes, and the CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir (brand names Tamiflu and
Relenza) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with 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. 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 soon after getting sick (within two days of
Is there a human vaccine to protect from swine influenza?
There are no vaccines that protect against the current swine influenza virus causing illness in
humans. It is not known whether current human seasonal influenza vaccines can provide any
protection. How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine flu should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are
symptomatic and possibly for up to seven days after the start of getting sick. Children, especially
younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
What about travel to and from Mexico or other states where swine flu had been
At this time, CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.
frequently for updates. Is it safe to eat pork and pork products?
Yes. Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly
handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The swine influenza
virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 160_F/70_C, corresponding to the general guidance
for the preparation of pork and other meat.
For more information and on-going updates:
Public Health – Seattle & King County, Centers for Disease ContWashington State Departme
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