Swine Flu Info
By now you’ve probably been hearing a ton about swine flu in the media. It’s a lot of information to wade through. Here are some useful tips based on a Public Health Fact Sheet issued by the Massachusetts Dept of Public Health about swine flu.
Why is everyone talking about swine flu?
- About once every 20 to 40 years, a new type of flu appears, which is different from typical flu. When this happens, most people haven’t built up immunity to the new type of flu, so it can spread quickly from one person to another, in schools, cities, or even from one country to another, in a short time. When this happens it’s called a flu pandemic. We don’t yet know if the current swine flu virus will make a pandemic happen.
What is swine flu?
- It’s a flu that usually affects pigs, but can sometimes be caught by a person, and then spread from one person to another.
What are the symptoms?
- They are like symptoms of other flus, such as fever, cough, sore throat, aches, chills, fatigue, and sometimes stomach upset.
Is it treatable?
- Medicines used to treat flu, including swine flu, are called antivirals. Health care providers may recommend antivirals to certain people with flu. As with any type of flu, treatment includes drinking enough fluids, getting lots of rest, eating healthy, washing hands often, and staying home to not spread germs.
What if I think I have the swine flu?
- If you are sick with cold or flu-like symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, chills, or feeling very tired, CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER (HCP). Also, if you have traveled to one of the areas where swine flu has been reported, or you have been in close contact with someone who has the flu, you should definitely tell your HCP! The World Health Organization has daily reports on where swine flu has been confirmed. It is also very important to tell your HCP if you are pregnant or think you might be be pregnant. So, bottom-line, if you are sick, do the right thing – call your HCP, and stay home for at least 24 hours if you have a fever (or up to 7 days from the time your symptoms started) so you don’t spread any germs.
What if my HCP says I do have swine flu?
- Your health care provider will let you know if you have a mild or moderate case of the flu or if you have a severe case. If your case is mild to moderate, you will likely be able to get better at home with rest, good hydration and nutrition. If you have a severe case of the flu, you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days.
When should I go to the hospital?
- Get medical care immediately if you have any difficulty breathing or chest pain, purplish or bluish lips, vomiting or can’t keep liquids down, dehydration, seizures or convulsions.
How can I protect myself from swine flu?
- You can lower your chances of getting swine flu the same way you avoid other colds and flus. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Good times to wash your hands are: before & after using the bathroom, before eating or cooking, and when you come home from being out. Use a hand-sanitizer like Purell when soap and water are not available. Avoid body contact with anyone who has a cold or flu. So, no hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with them. Try not to touch your nose, mouth, and eyes. Clean things that get touched a lot at your house, like doorknobs, fridge handle, light switches, etc. You don’t have to go overboard with the cleaning, just keep things a regular amount clean.
Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
- No, not yet. It takes time for scientists to develop each type of vaccine, and this strain of swine flu is new, so no vaccine has yet been made for it.
Can I eat pork?
- Yes. If the pork or pork products are properly handled and cooked, they will be safe to eat.
These tips were paraphrased from a Public Health Fact Sheet.
And last but not least, follow instructions from your parents or guardians — they will be getting info from your school and from your health care providers about whether or not you will be going to school or staying home on any given day.