Identified cases of swine flu continue to grow in the U.S., with 20 cases so far diagnosed in five states. To date (the morning of 26 April), there have been no reported deaths in the U.S. from swine influenza A (H1N1).
The numbers of diagnosed cases in Mexico vary, depending on the source, but are somewhere over 800 and possibly over 1,000, with over 60 deaths.
Although there is no vaccine to protect against this virus, it is susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. Your doctor will be able to prescribe those as needed.
The vaccine most of us get for seasonal influenza will not protect against this virus, but will help prevent a co-infection of seasonal influenza and this swine influenza.
A few effective ways to stay healthy and/or prevent transmission are:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes – this is believed to be the primary method of transmission for this virus. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth or at least use your sleeve if you’ve no tissues handy.
- Handwashing throughout the day with warm water and soap is always a good germ buster. Alcohol-based hand cleaners will also work if you’re not around soap and water.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as those are entryways for germs.
- If you’re sick, stay home, particularly if you have a respiratory illness and a fever
Swine flu originates in pigs and is usually transmitted to other pigs, but people who are around pigs can get swine flu and it can then spread from person to person.
According to the CDC, it’s safe to eat properly handled and cooked pork products as that’s not a viable route of transmission.
Swine flu symptoms are very much like human flu symptoms, and they include cough, sore throat, body aches, fever, chills, and tiredness. Some of the people infected with swine flu have had diarrhea and vomiting.
Swine flu can be serious and, sometimes, deadly, but practicing the precautions listed above will go a long way toward protecting you and those around you.
For more information, visit the CDC website.