How do people get the Swine Flu?

How does the flu spread?

The H1N1 influenza virus spreads the same way that seasonal flu spreads--from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza.

People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. This means that people can pass on the flu to someone else before knowing they are sick as well as passing on the flu while they are sick.

People are being advised to avoid close contact with sick people and stay at least six feet away from people who are sick.

Why all of the face masks?

One of the images associated with the H1N1 Flu is that of people wearing masks over their faces. It appears that the real value of wearing a mask is to keep those who have the virus from spreading it to others.

People are currently advised to avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of the flu and to stay at least 6 feet away.

The CDC has helpful information for those who need to take care of a sick person in the home. If one must have close contact with a sick person like when holding a sick infant, the CDC advises spending the least amount of time possible in close contact and wear a surgical mask or N95 disposable respirator.

How do people get the Swine Flu?

Swine flu is an acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by a tiny spheroid virus that belongs to the Influenza A virus group. It is also know as swine influenza, or this variant by the name of the virus H1N1.

Symptoms of swine flu in swine herds include fever, inactivity, nasal discharge, labored breathing, mouth breathing, and paroxysmal coughing when the pigs are moved.

Usually swine flu does not infect people. In the past few human cases that have occurred have been with people who have had direct contact with pigs.

The current swine flu outbreak is different. It has been caused by a new swine flu virus that has spread from person to person, which allows the virus to be transmitted among people who have not had any contact with pigs.

Pigs and People

How Viruses May Be Transmitted By Different Species

Possible mechanisms for the introduction of novel influenza A viruses into the human population including direct transmission of entire bird or swine viruses or transmission of reassortant viruses.

Source: Carolyn Buxton Bridges, MD, Influenza Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia: "Human influenza viruses and the potential for inter-species transmission."

What should I do if I get sick?

The CDC recommends if you get sick with the Swine Flu:

    Stay home from work or school.
    Limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
    Watch for concerning symptoms.

In addition you should follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Image: Modified Microsoft Image.

What should I do if I think it's the flu?

The two things to do if you think it's the flu:

    1. Take care of yourself (or child).
    2. Monitor yourself (or child) for worsening of symptoms.
Managing the flu means being sure to provide relieve of symptoms (like fever) being sure to keep the sick person well-hydrated.

The caregiver will want to make sure that the sick person is drinking enough water and taking food as tolerated.

The CDC advises using anti-pyretic (fever reducing) medications to relieve fever such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Any Aspirin or aspirin-containing products (e.g. bismuth subsalicylate - Pepto Bismol) *should not be* administered to any confirmed or suspected ill case of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.