-from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

What is swine flu?
Swine influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused
by type A influenza viruses. People do not normally get swine flu,
but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses may
spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission
was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Are there human infections with swine flu in the

In March and April 2009, an outbreak of flu began with reports
of one death and 91 laboratory confirmed cases of human
infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses in Arizona,
California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada,
New York City, Ohio, and Texas. An updated case count of
confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at
www.cdc.gov/swineflu/index.htm. Federal, local and state health
agencies are working together on the investigation.

Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus
is contagious and is spreading from human to human. At this
time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in
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. Some people have
reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like
seasonal flu, swine flu may be more serious for those with
underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza virus is thought to be happening
in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses spread
mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing.
Sometimes people may become infected by touching something
with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
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.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good
general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage
your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try
not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or
zanamivir (Relenza) for the treatment and/or prevention of
infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are
prescription medicines that fight against the flu by keeping flu
viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral
drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster.
They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment,
antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within
2 days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to

People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered
potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and
possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children,
especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for
longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is
contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose,
or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person
move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches
respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk
and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing
their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body?

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.
Colorado HELP hotline
1-877-462-2911 (toll-free)
M-F 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.;
S-S 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.

Additional sources of information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1-800-311-3435 (toll-free)
Colorado Department of Public Health and
1-877-518-5608 (toll-free)

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
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.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the
virus through coughing or sneezing?

If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as
possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth
and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to help protect
those around you. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover
your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your
hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to
avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand
cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands with soap
and warm water that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap
and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes
or gel sanitizers may be used. If using gel, rub your hands until
the gel is dry; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?

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.
• If you become ill and experience any of the following warning
signs, seek emergency medical care.
• 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
* 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
How serious is swine flu infection?
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.

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing

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.
I get my flu shot.  Will it protect me from Swine Flu?
The currently available seasonal flu vaccine is unlikely to protect
you against swine flu as this is a different kind of flu virus.