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What is H1N1 (swine) flu?

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This
new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries,
including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is
spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza
viruses spread.

Why is this new H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?

This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of
the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in
North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what
normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally
circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a
“quadruple reassortant” virus

How many H1N1 (swine) flu viruses are there?

Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian
influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses
from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that
are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different
variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A
virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of
the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

Are there human infections with H1N1 (swine) flu in the U.S.?

In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1)
viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. CDC and local
and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation. An updated case
count of confirmed H1N1 (swine) flu infections in the United States is kept at CDC and local and state health agencies are
working together to investigate this situation.

How serious is H1N1 (swine) flu infection?

Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (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.

How severe is illness associated with this new H1N1 virus?

It’s not known at this time how severe this virus will be in the general population. CDC is studying
the medical histories of people who have been infected with this virus to determine whether some
people may be at greater risk from infection, serious illness or hospitalization from the virus. In
seasonal flu, there are certain people that are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications.
This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women,
and people of any age with chronic medical conditions. It’s unknown at this time whether certain
groups of people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications from infection with this
new virus. CDC also is conducting laboratory studies to see if certain people might have natural
immunity to this virus, depending on their age.

Is this H1N1 (swine) flu virus contagious?

CDC has determined that this virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human.
However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1 (swine) flu in people?

The symptoms of H1N1 (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 H1N1 (swine) flu. In the past, severe illness
(pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with H1N1 (swine) flu
infection in people. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (swine) flu may cause a worsening of underlying
chronic medical conditions.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

* Fast breathing or trouble breathing

* Bluish or gray skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* 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

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
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Can you prevent Swine Flu?

The simple answer is individually no, no one can but life isn't simple it's complicated and there's a
lot you can do to reduce your chance of infection. There's a lot we all as individuals can do
together to affect this Olympic sized problem we are all facing.

Things you can do now to help stop the spread of this indiscriminate killer.

1st) You can't prevent H1N1 Swine Flu but you can lower the odds of infection with some
attention to detail. Be mindful of personal hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. A
quick rinse with no soap actually adds more germs from the sink you used. Use anti-bacterial
soap and concentrate on the area under your nails. It is a good general practice but in flu season
it's a priority.

2nd) Carry hand sanitizing gel. Alcohol based to kill germs on contact. No I'm not a Purell sales
man but the stuff works great. This advice may seem like common sense but if you don't have
sanitizing gel in the car or in your purse...
3rd) Cough into your sleeve if you have to cough at all. Coughing into your hand only serves to
spread the virus if your unlucky enough to have it or to bring the germs up to your mouth if it's on
your hands and you haven't washed yet. It is also polite and a visible example of you looking out
for your fellow human beings. Kudos to you!

The prevention of H1N1 Swine Flu is a responsibility we all share and if we each do our part we
won't need the government to step in to control a pandemic. If it comes to that the flu will just be
the beginning of the problems we are likely to face.

Swine Flu is serious business and I'm not just trying to scare you. The fact is any Flu prevention
tips are good information but Swine Flu precautions save lives. The Swine Flu is scary. It targets
people 25 and younger and small children are especially vulnerable. I touched on some of the
basics but this subject deserves real attention. To find out more take a look at In depth comprehensive information on how to prevent H1N1 Swine Flu is
available and I strongly recommend you take advantage of it before you "need" to.