Learn about H1N1 or swine flu
Date: April 27, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Influenza A (H1N1), commonly called swine flu, is a virus common in pigs, which can be spread to humans. Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to symptoms of regular human flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The best way to keep from getting the flu is to wash your hands.
Here are Frequently Asked Questions about swine flu:
Phoenix Children's Hospital Swine Flu Information Line
Swine flu (swine influenza) is a respiratory disease that pigs often get sick from. It is caused by type A influenza viruses. People do not normally get swine flu, but they can and do sometimes.
This 2009 swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is catching and is spreading from human to human. However, we do not know yet how easily the virus spreads between people.
The symptoms of swine flu in people are like regular human flu. They include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and feeling very tired (fatigue). Some people also have loose stool (diarrhea) and throw up (vomiting).
People with the virus mainly spread it from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may get this flu by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Infected people may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before they know they are sick, and while they are sick. They may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before they get symptoms and 7 or more days after becoming sick.
The most important way to keep from getting the flu is to wash your hands. Try to stay in good health. Get enough sleep, be physically active, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy food, and manage your stress. If you touch surfaces that others with the flu virus may have touched or coughed on, wash your hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
People with the swine flu virus infection may spread the virus for as long as they have symptoms, and 7 or more days after they first get sick. Young children may spread the disease even longer than that.
There is no vaccine right now to protect against swine flu. Here are some things you can do to keep from spreading germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners (like Purell) also work well, if your hands look clean.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people, if you can.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- If you get sick with the flu, stay home from work or school. Limit contact with others to keep from spreading the virus to them.
Do not go to work or school if you are ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may keep those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands every time you cough or sneeze.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds.
When you can't use soap and water, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers. They sell them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel works without water. The alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
If your child or someone in your family gets sick, signs that you need to get help right away include:
Call 911 or take the child to the emergency room if he or she:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not responding normally
- The child does not want to be held (being very irritable)
- Fever with a rash
- Flu-like symptoms get better, but then come back with a fever and a worse cough
In adults, call 911 or go to the emergency room if:
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Throwing up that is severe or doesn't stop
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.