Health: FAQ on Swine Influenza (Flu)

WHO, Health, vaccine, Swine, USA, Mexico, pandemic, Pig Flu, Swine Flu, Swine Influenza, Tips, How To, Prevention, Medicine, Doctor, Hospital, Virus, Critical Illness, zanamivir, Pendamic, Danger Here’s a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding SWINE INFLUENZA (SWINE FLU) that is hot on the news that I got from my e-mail. Hope this information is helpful to understand more and precaution that can be taken to prevent it from spreading..

There has been outbreaks of Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) reported first in Mexico and has now spread into USA and other countries in Europe, Middle East and even New Zealand. This sudden spread of this infectious disease has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise the Pandemic Flu Alert Level to Level 4.

Swine Flu is a group of influenza viruses that regularly cause influenza in pigs. Usually infections in humans are uncommon. However, this present series of outbreaks of human cases of of swine flu has been linked to a new, previously unknown strain of H1N1 virus that seems to be able to spread from human-to-human. Hence, this sudden and fast spread around the world.

The symptoms of swine flu in humans include high fever, tiredness, sore throat , coughing nausea and vomiting and even diarrhoea.

Human-to-human transmission of flu viruses can occur by “droplet” spread – when an infectious individual coughs, sneezes, talks or has hand-to-hand contact with an infected person (e.g. handshake).

It can also spread if individuals touch surfaces that are contaminated with the flu virus and then touch their nose or mouth.

Swine flu viruses cannot be transmitted by food. It is safe to eat pork and pork products that have been properly handled and/or sufficiently cooked.

The virus does respond to the newer antiviral medications oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

The seasonal influenza vaccination does not provide protection against the swine flu.

Below are some FAQs on this subject which will hopefully address your concerns for yourself and your family:

What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a group of influenza viruses that causes flu in pigs. Usually infections in humans are uncommon.

What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms are similar to seasonal flu – cough, sore throat, high fever, headache, runny nose, general fatigue, and muscle pains. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been noted..

How is this swine flu spreading?
It is most likely spreading from person to person through infectious respiratory droplets (droplets generated when a person coughs, sneezes or talks) and hand-to-hand contact.

How can I prevent getting it?
1. Personal hygiene is critical. Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating or drinking.
2. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
3. Avoid coming in close contact with persons who have flu symptoms.

How can I prevent its spread?
Respiratory etiquette is important. If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, mask, or hand.
Avoid public areas such as markets or theaters if you have respiratory symptoms and fever.
If you have a fever (greater than 100°F or 37.8°C) with symptoms as above it is advisable that you consult your physician.

What is the infectious period?
The infectious period for this strain is not confirmed. According to the US CDC, infected people should be considered potentially contagious:
· One day before their symptoms start
· Seven days after their symptoms start OR as long as they are still showing symptoms (whichever is longer)
Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

Is there a vaccine to prevent swine flu?
There is no specific vaccine against this swine flu.

Can swine flu be treated with antiviral medications?
Preliminary information indicates that the virus is sensitive to the newer antiviral medications oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). It is resistant to the older medications amantadine and rimantidine.

Can I catch swine flu from eating pork or pork products?
No.

Can I travel to Mexico?
There are travel restrictions in place. Check GE’s travel intranet site for updates. If you are required to undertake business critical travel, please consult your manager and follow the procedure laid down for such travel.
As for non-essential travel, it might be prudent to put it off for the time being.

Should I take antiviral medication (Tamiflu) for prevention?
This is an individual decision, which should be made in consultation with your Doctor.
Any time employees carry medication while travelling internationally, they should keep the original prescription with them and carry the medication in its original box. This will avoid potential difficulties with customs officials at the airport.

Employees should consult a medical professional before using any antiviral medication.

Where can I find additional information?
Here are a few useful links:

· International SOS
· Outbreak Notice Swine Influenza in the United States
· Update on Global Human Swine Influenza
· Swine influenza on Wikipedia
·
WHO on Swine influenza

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • Take everyday actions 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.
    • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.

Latest News on Swine Flu:

WHO warns swine flu threatening to become pandemic

Swine flu prompts Mexico to shut down economy

First Mexico fatal flu victim sought help for days

FACTBOX:How swine flu spreads in humans

How Fast Could a Swine Flu Vaccine Be Produced?

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