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  • 5/23/2009

 Swin Flu: what you Need to Know (part 1)


In recent weeks, cases of swine flu in countries including Mexico, the United States, Canada, Spain, and New Zealand have sparked international headlines and concern about the possibility of a pandemic, the worldwide spread of a disease affecting a large number of people.

But whether swine flu becomes labeled a pandemic or not, there’s no evidence in the United States or countries outside of Mexico that it’s any worse — or more dangerous — than the common seasonal flu.

So there’s no reason to panic. But it is smart to take precautions, like washing your hands often. To put things in perspective, here are some important facts about what’s going on.

About Swine Flu

Swine flu is a contagious respiratory virus that affects pigs year-round. The virus making headlines right now is a new strain of the swine flu, which is an influenza type A (H1N1) virus. This strain contains a combination of different flu viruses that affect pigs, birds, and humans. Because of the human component of the virus, it can spread from person-to-person more easily.

Since this is a new strain of flu virus, people who had a flu shot this past winter probably won't be protected against swine flu. However, the virus does appear to respond to treatment with some of the same medicines used to treat common seasonal flu.

How It's Spread

Swine flu spreads in the same way that other flu viruses do — through the air when a person who has the virus sneezes, coughs, or speaks. People can also catch the virus after touching an object that someone with the virus sneezed or coughed on. As with other flu viruses, people who have the virus can be contagious a day or so before their symptoms start, so they can pass it on before they even know they're sick.

When Does an Outbreak become a Pandemic?

In the case of an infectious disease like influenza, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines a pandemic as any spread of a disease that is:

• new to the population and has no vaccine yet available

• passes easily from person to person

• has caused outbreaks in at least two or more countries in different parts of the world

• has the potential to cause serious illness and even fatalities


If the WHO decides that current swine flu outbreaks are a pandemic, it will alert governments to begin rolling out their pandemic preparedness plans. The plans may include guidelines for preventing the spread of disease, managing and treating infected persons, and vaccine development.

It’s important to remember that a pandemic alert is a preventative measure and does not necessarily mean that most people will contract the illness or that many people will get seriously ill. It’s a way for governments to work together to stop the spread of the disease and find a way to keep it under control.   

Who Is Especially at Risk?

As with other types of flu, kids with chronic medical conditions (like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma or other lung problems) can have more problems coping with the illness. They might get sicker and need more medical support; in some cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

Pregnant women who catch the flu also are more likely to get sicker. Having the flu can increase the risk for complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

In infants, the flu can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

child with mask

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the common flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Swine flu also can cause pneumonia, which can make it hard to breathe.

Kids with any of these symptoms need immediate medical attention:

• fast breathing or trouble breathing

• bluish skin color

• not drinking enough fluids

• very sleepy or lethargic

• in babies, being so irritable they don't want to be held

• fever with a rash

• flu-like symptoms improve, then return with fever and a worse cough

If you think your child has the flu, call your doctor — particularly if you live in any of the states that have reported swine flu outbreaks.

To help track a possible epidemic, doctors and scientists can find out if someone has swine flu by taking a swab sample from the person's nose and throat and sending it to a lab to be analyzed. Doctors won't know the results of this test for a few days.

symptoms of swine flu

Other links:

 Mothers, source of Security for children

The Muslim Mother and Education

Mothers Milk, Gods Gift to the Baby

Ten Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners

Ways to Build Your Child’s Confidence

Parents urged to listen more

Exercise Gives Mother Extra energy

Pacifiers prevent breastfeeding success

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