How do I prevent and treat swine flu, and, is a pandemic imminent?

Swine flu is in the news, with documented cases of human to human transmission.

According to news reports, this outbreak has “pandemic potential,” with at least 62 people dying in Mexico, and over 1,000 cases reported in that country.

Swine flu, or Swine Influenza, is caused by the Influenza type A virus found in pigs. Until now, human infection has been uncommon, with most cases involving humans being exposed to infected pigs. Human to human transmission has previously been rare, with a potential single case in 1988.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular influenza, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, fatigue and body aches. Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can be present as well. The diagnosis is made by analyzing a respiratory specimen, which is generally collected within 4 to 5 days after the onset of illness.

And no, you cannot get swine flu from eating or preparing pork.

The current strain of swine flu appears to be sensitive to the newer anti-viral medications, like oseltamivir and zanamivir, but resistant to the older drugs amantadine and rimantadine. The CDC is recommending treating those suspected with swine flu with the first two drugs within two days of noticing symptoms.

Of course, common-sense infection control techniques apply. These include frequent hand washing, using a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing, avoiding close contact with those demonstrating symptoms, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

This event has a serious probability of worsening rapidly, and considering that most of the dead were previously healthy adults between the ages fo 25 and 45, has the real potential to become a pandemic.

The CDC has a continuously updated website, which I recommend that you follow:

CDC – Swine Flu General Information
CDC – Swine Flu RSS Feed
CDC – Swine Flu Twitter updates

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