Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses.
Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human
infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who
are around pigs but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person also.
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.
Is this 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 swine flu in people?
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. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia
and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like
seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
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. 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 do you catch swine flu?
Spread of swine flu can occur in two ways:
• Through contact with infected pigs or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses.
• Through contact with a person with swine flu. Human-to-human spread of swine flu has been
documented also and is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu. Influenza is thought
to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of
infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid
or an inhaler) 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 others?
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 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. Alcoholbased hand cleaners are also effective.
• 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. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or
mouth. Germs spread this way.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in San Diego County or Imperial County California or Guadalupe County, Texas 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 Swine Flu
• Not drinking enough fluids
• 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
• 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
• Severe or persistent vomiting
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
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.