Questions and Answers on Swine Flu
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is 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. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- 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 hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit
contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like
symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
One case of the H1N1 influenza, also known as the swine flu, was confirmed Aug. 25 in a staffer at Shoal Creek Elementary School.
Rockdale County Public Schools spokesperson Cindy Ball said the staff person was not a classroom teacher.
Superintendent Dr. Samuel King said Rockdale County Public Schools has been working closely with public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and East Metro Health District, which includes Rockdale County, and following CDC guidelines for prevention.
The school system, which has about 3,000 employees and 16,000 students, has been giving out information through letters, broadcast messages and the rapid communication system via phone on how to prevent the spread of the flu virus in general.
"Everything is geared towards prevention," said Ball. Some of those preventive measures include practicing good hygene, such as coughing and sneezing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue and washing hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing, and practicing health ettiquette, by coughing or sneezing away from other people. The schools have also been practicing social distancing, such as turning students' desks away from each other and towards the same direction, so that kids aren't facing one another.
If a student is found to have flu-like symptoms, faculty and staff members are instructed to send them to the school nurse for evaluation. The nurse then contacts the students parents if they need to be sent home.
The CDC recommends those with a flu-like illness to remain at home until at least 24 hours after their fever has gone away without the use of fever-reducing medication.
"The next real key for us is once the vaccine comes in," King said, adding that school systems will likely be a staging ground to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available.
East Metro Health District spokesperson Vernon Goins said that the World Health Organization recommended that the most vulnerable patients, such as pregnant women those with compromized immune systems, receive the H1N1 vaccine first.
He said that the CDC reported the vaccine might be available sometime between mid-October to December. The public health department would be administering the vaccine on the local level. "Private doctors who want to dispense the flu shots should apply with East Metro Public Health by September 15," he said.
The regular flu vaccine is available at public health departments for $20 and is arriving at doctor's offices across the country. The Rockdale County Health Department, located at 985 Taylor Street in Conyers, can be contacted at 770-785-5936
Ball said the RCPS does offer the regular flu vaccine to employees.
Check back to www.rockdalenews.com for more information.