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User Feedback: swine flu

User Feedback: swine flu



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More than 150 are dead, hundreds of others infected in Mexico. Dozens of cases in the United States.

Here are questions submitted by KSL.com users and answers provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD):

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  1. **What states are being affected by the swine flu? -Truley, Grantsville**CDC: Alabama (4), Arizona (17), California (30), Colorado (7), Connecticut (2), Delaware (20), Florida (5), Idaho (1), Illinois (8), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (14), Maryland (4), Massachusetts (6), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (7), New Mexico (1), New York (73), North Carolina, Ohio (3), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (15), Tennessee (1), Texas (41, 1 death), Virginia (3), Wisconsin (3). To date, there is one confirmed case of swine flu in Utah. The case was confirmed in Summit County Saturday morning. There are 17 probable cases.
    • 1 confirmed, 10 probable cases from Summit County
    • 4 cases from Salt Lake County
    • 1 case from Weber-Morgan Health District
    • 2 cases from Utah County A probable case is defined as a flu sample the Public Health Laboratory has been unable to identify and has sent to the CDC for further testing. Results are expected Friday.

  1. **Why do they call it the swine flu? Does it have anything to do with swine?? -Elizabeth, Glenwood**CDC: Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans.

Related:

People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen.

  1. **How did the swine flu start going around to people? Do you know how long it will go around for? -Morgan, Ogden**CDC: Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
  2. **How long do you think before they get this under control? -Chelsey, Sandy**UDOH: Public health is doing all it can to slow the spread of disease. People need to continue to take precautions, practice good hygiene, and limit contact with others if they are sick. There is no way to answer specifically when this might be "controlled."
  3. **Was the 1918 pandemic the H1N1 type A influenza virus? Is this the same flu virus and if not what is the difference? -Jon, Provo**CDC: The "Spanish" influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, which caused ≈50 million deaths worldwide, remains an ominous warning to public health. The impact of this pandemic was not limited to 1918-1919. All influenza A pandemics since that time, and indeed almost all cases of influenza A worldwide (excepting human infections from avian viruses such as H5N1 and H7N7), have been caused by descendants of the 1918 virus, including "drifted" H1N1 viruses.
  4. **Can you be infected and not know it and still pass the virus on? Or not actually get sick and still pass it on? Camie, West Haven**UDOH: A person can spread the swine influenza before symptoms begin. A person may be able to infect another person one day before symptoms start and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered contagious as long as they show symptoms. Children, especially younger children, may be contagious for longer periods.
  5. **What are the early tell tale signs and symptoms, and what should we do if we discover these? -Lisa, Orem**CDC: 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. SLVHD: The symptoms of swine flu 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. If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home, take care of yourself and limit your contact with others. If your symptoms get worse and you require medical attention, contact your doctor right away. Remember, no swine flu has been detected in Utah to date. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and haven't travelled to the affected areas, it is not likely you have swine flu. 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.
  6. **I have the flu and am confused on whether I should go see a doctor or not? -Rose, West Jordan**UDOH: 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 should 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. If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
  7. **If my child has been exposed to someone who has been to Mexico and now she has a cough a headache and sore throat plus runny nose and stuff should we be concerned they had flu shots in October -Jenny, Ephraim**UDOH: Contact your health care provider immediately to let your provider know you may have been exposed to the swine influenza virus. Make sure to tell your provider of your possible exposure to swine influenza so you can be separated from other patients and avoid spreading it to others in the clinic. Your provider will test you to determine if you have influenza and begin medications if necessary.
  8. **Do we know how this will affect pregnant women? -Chanda, Magna**UDOH: There is good information available for pregnant women through the Utah Department of Health's Pregnancy Risk Line. Pregnant women can call the Pregnancy Risk Line by dialing 1-800-822-BABY. Ruth Tuomala, M.D.: Being pregnant doesn't make it more likely that you'll become infected. But if you are infected, pregnancy makes complications of the flu—any flu—more likely and often more serious. And women in their third trimester have reduced lung function because the baby takes up so much room. That may make pregnant women more susceptible both to influenza viral pneumonia and to secondary bacterial pneumonia. [[CLICK HERE](http://blogs.consumerreports.org/health/2009/05/pregnancy-and-swine-flu.html) to read more from Dr. Tuomala on pregnancy and the swine flu]
  9. **I have two younger kids, a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old. They are not current on immunization. Are they risk of getting swine influenza easier? -Amber, West Jordan**UDOH: Currently, there is no effective vaccine for swine flu. We would recommend all children be up to date with their vaccinations. More information can be found at www.immunize-utah.org.
  10. **I had a relative return from a trip to Mexico, about 3 weeks ago and before news was breaking about the swine flu. He became very flu like, including vomiting and diarrhea. He is better now. Should he report it? -J., SLC**UDOH: There is nothing we would be able to pick up on a test since the patient has recovered.
  11. **If you don't have a general physician and are experiencing same symptoms as the swine flu, what it the best phone number to call for advise? -Zorica, SLC**SLVHD: The Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD) has set up the 2-1-1 Information and Referral hot line for local Utahns with questions about the swine flu. Call specialists will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions and provide referrals to local organizations that can meet a caller's immediate needs.
  12. **Does wearing a mask keep you from getting swine flu? -Neal, Sandy**UDOH: Face masks or respirators are usually worn by an infected person or by persons in direct contact with infected persons. For example, if you are taking care of a person who has common or swine influenza, you will need a mask. Check with pharmacies, building supply stores, medical supply stores, hardware stores or department stores like Target or Walmart to purchase face masks.
  13. **Is the swine flu more violent than the average flu each year? -Diane, Eagle Mountain**SLVHD: Unfortunately we just don't know the exact virulence of this new strain of swine flu yet. Reports from Mexico indicate it has killed young, healthy adults, but these reports have not been confirmed. We will know more about swine flu's virulence in the days to come. CDC: Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.
  14. **How am I supposed to know the difference from any other flu? And how severe should I let it get before I see a doctor? -Sharlene, Spanish Fork**SLVHD: The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu. The only way to tell the difference is to have your doctor run an influenza test. Contact your doctor if your typical flu symptoms get worse, or if you are worried you may have contracted swine flu. Remember, no swine flu has been detected in Utah to date. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and haven't travelled to the affected areas, it is not likely you have swine flu. CDC: The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
    • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • Bluish skin color
    • Not drinking enough fluids
    • Not waking up or not interacting
    • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
    • Fever with a rash In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

  1. **How can a person determine if they have the swine flu, if they are experiencing symptoms of a different virus? What sets swine flu apart from other flu's? -Gail, SLC**CDC: 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 their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu. The only way to tell the difference is to have your doctor run an influenza test. SLVHD: So far what sets the swine flu apart from other flu strains is its newness. When completely new strains of influenza appear, it means most humans have little or no immunity against it. If the new strain proves to be virulent, it could be a powerful killer. Right now we don't know if swine flu will pose a serious health risk, but it is better to be prepared for it.
  2. **Will a standard flu test show positive if you have any type of flu including swine flu? -Alan, Grantsville**UDOH: No. Special testing is required to determine if an individual has swine flu. At this point, only the CDC can conduct that testing. However, over the next several days, Public Health Labs in states will be able to conduct those tests.
  3. **How long can you carry the flu without showing any signs or symptoms? -Leslie, Orem**UDOH: Typically a person may "shed" the virus for up to 24 hours before becoming symptomatic. Although since this is a new virus, that answer may not be definitive. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu. The only way to tell the difference is to have your doctor run an influenza test. So far what sets the swine flu apart from other flu strains is its newness. When completely new strains of influenza appear, it means most humans have little or no immunity against it. If the new strain proves to be virulent, it could be a powerful killer. Right now we don't know if swine flu will pose a serious health risk, but it is better to be prepared for it. SLVHD: We don't have a concrete answer for that yet. It looks like the incubation period is somewhere between 5-7 days. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
  4. **How hard or easy is it to catch this flu? Why are Mexicans dying, but not US citizens? -SLC**SLVHD: This virus is so new that we don't know how easily transmissible it is. The World Health Organization is reporting that there is sustained human to human transmission within the United States, and the fact that it has been able to cross so many borders is a possible indication of its virulence. CDC is on the ground in Mexico, California and New York right now studying the virus to better understand the difference in U.S. and Mexican cases, and to better understand what we are dealing with. CDC: 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. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
  5. **Can the virus be transferred in the swimming pool like cryptosporidium? I like to swim but I'm wondering if I should avoid that for a few months. -Mark, Provo**CDC: Tap water that has been treated by conventional disinfection processes does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. Current drinking water treatment regulations provide a high degree of protection from viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of the novel H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 would also be similarly inactivated by chlorination. To date, there have been no documented human cases of influenza caused by exposure to influenza-contaminated drinking water.
  6. **How does a person actually die from the swine flu? Is it due to dehydration, respiratory failure, etc.? -Amber, SLC**UDOH: This would need to be answered on a case by case basis.
  7. **How soon will vaccinations be available for this strain of flu? We have had our flu shots for the year but are concerned about a family member who is terminally ill. -Louise, SLC**UDOH: There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine influenza, but the CDC has begun the process to get a vaccine developed. The swine influenza virus is not contained in the 2008-2009 flu vaccine. However, it is still recommended that people get vaccinated with the influenza vaccine if they have not done so, because the influenza vaccine can still protect against other circulating influenza viruses. Additionally, it is recommend to get current vaccination status checked for all other recommended vaccines, including the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine as well.
  8. **People that have had swine flu, are they given medicine to get better or are they just getting better on their own? -Deanna, Clearfield**UDOH: Certain drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) may help lessen the severity of swine influenza. These antiviral drugs work best if started within two days of symptoms.
  9. **How old do you have to be to take the current treatments for Swine Flu? I read that you must be 7 years old to take Relenza. What about tamiflu? Is it safe for infants and toddlers? -Megan, Ogden**CDC:
    • Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu ®) is approved to both treat and prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people one year of age and older.
    • Zanamivir (brand name Relenza ®) is approved to treat influenza A and B virus infection in people 7 years and older and to prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people 5 years and older.
    • **Will the Swine flu pass like the regular flu or do you have to have medical treatment to get rid of it? -Heidi, Provo**UDOH: Medical treatment, through the form of anti-viral medications, can treat both swine flu and seasonal flu. Patients should consult with their physicians on the best course for treating an illness.
    • Why should we care about a virus that responds well to the most stocked medications? Is this just the media trying to sell papers and get TV viewers? -Lyman, PaysonWe can't speak for the media, but public health is taking this threat very seriously. Our hope is that the virus will be contained and that we avoid widespread illness, which is why we are taking proactive measures and encouraging 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.
    • **Do they know how you catch this? Is it like the common cold? How long do the "germs" survive on a surface after someone sneezes on it? -Sally, SLC**UDOH: The viability of viruses on inanimate objects depends upon the temperature, the humidity, the UV lights (is it outside?), and whether any protein is there (for example, virus survives longer in a puddle of dried blood than on formica). So it may remain viable for up to 48 hours and depending upon the environment and the surface. However, the primary mechanism of transmission is person to person. Contaminated objects, such as used tissues or soiled bedding and clothing, should be disposed of or laundered promptly. Be certain to wash your hands after touching possibly contaminated objects. SLVHD: As with any influenza virus, swine flu is likely spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.
    • **My son is on a mission in Mexico close to the epicenter of this virus outbreak. Are Americans (or people from other countries) in Mexico being told/guided/directed as to what they should be doing to protect themselves? -Kevin, Riverton**LDS Church The Church is taking necessary precautions to address safety issues surrounding the swine flu situation. We are following recommendations by the Mexican government by cancelling all worship services in Mexico until further notice. Missionaries assigned to serve in Mexico are remaining in Missionary Training Centers in Utah and Mexico City until further notice.
    • **We are traveling to Cancun on Thursday for a week. We are concerned about the flu but we cannot afford to switch our vacation to a different place. Do you think we will be ok? Are they going to make us wear a mask in Cancun the whole time we are there? -Mark, Herriman**SLVHD: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all nonessential trips to Mexico be postponed. If you are unable to change your plans, visit wwwn.cdc.gov/travel for information that could keep you safe. UDOH: The CDC recommends that people avoid all non-essential travel to Mexico at this time. Non-essential travel includes vacations, cruises, etc. But if you must travel to Mexico:
      • First, prepare for your trip before you leave by monitoring the international situation; checking with your doctor about prescription antiviral medications; packing a travel health kit; reviewing your health insurance plan; and finding where you can get health care services while traveling.
      • Also, practice healthy habits to help stop the spread of germs, including washing your hands often with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and following all local health advice. This may include being asked to wear a surgical mask to protect others.
      • Remember if you are traveling to Mexico to be sure you get a seasonal flu vaccination. It is not expected to protect against swine flu, but it will protect you against seasonal flu. Flu season runs through May in the northern hemisphere, and is just beginning in tropical and southern hemisphere countries.
      • After you return from Mexico, pay close attention to your health for 10 days. If you become sick with a fever PLUS a cough and sore throat, or if you have trouble breathing during the 10 days after you return, see a doctor.
    • **How many people in the USA die of the flu (all types) each year? -Beverly, Provo**UDOH: Between 20,000 and 40,000. SLVHD: Roughly 38,000 individuals die in the United States each year from influenza. Deaths generally occur among specific populations: the very young, the very old and immunocompromised persons. Traditional pandemic strains are known to attacked and kill young healthy adults at a much higher rate than seasonal flu.
    • **Who does it affect more: adults or Kids? How can we prevent from getting it? -Michelle, Midvale**CDC: 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. SLVHD: Right now we don't know who is most at risk because so little is known about this new strain of swine influenza. More information will become available as this develops. They may seem like little things, but they make a big difference. Here's what you can do now 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.
  10. **Can you get swine flu by eating pork? -Brian, SLC**CDC: No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
  11. **Would it be possible to get swine flu from fresh produce or other products exposed to the virus from Mexico or elsewhere? -MB, Morgan**CDC: No. H1N1 viruses are not spread by food.

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