1. What is swine flu? It's a new strain of Influenza A, coming from a pig. The pig has contracted one human strain, two pig strains, and one bird strain of the flu. These all combined to make a new strain. Pigs are a Grand Central Station for flu and other viruses.
2. What are the symptoms?They're similar to regular flu viruses, but the gastrointestinal symptoms are more severe. They include:
- Severe fatigue
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Nausea *Keep in mind regular flu season is over, so if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your doctor. Do NOT go to the ER.
3. How do you get it?Mostly by infected people coughing/sneezing around you, also passing it by touch is likely.
4. How is it passed?You can pass it on to other people by coughing/sneezing on or near them, and possibly even touching surfaces that they later touch (and then touch their face, eyes, nose, etc.).
5. How is it treated?There's no 'cure' for it, but you need:
- Keep fever down
- Consider anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza, but keep in mind this strain is resistant to many older anti-viral drugs.
6. How do you protect yourself?
- Frequent hand-washing
- Avoid sick people
- Don't cough or sneeze on others
- Stay home if you're sick!
7. Can you catch it from eating pork products?While people in Mexico likely contracted this from handling infected pigs, eating pork products should be safe. Keep in mind to cook pork to a temperature of 160 deg Fahrenheit to kill any viruses.
8. Is traveling safe? Travel to Mexico is still statistically quite safe; the problem is still mainly one of perception, as the actual risk remains low. I would also consider the psychological effects this could have on children; consider what precautions they might take at airports, with customs officers wearing masks, etc.
9. How long does it last?The virus can incubate a day or two before symptoms occur. It takes about a week to recover from the full-blown virus.
10. Is this real or hype? Do I need to be worried?The danger is getting a lot of hype, but it is real. You probably don't need to be worried, though.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic." Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com
Marc Siegel MD is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is a medical analyst and reporter for Fox News since 2008. His upcoming book concerns a mysterious viral outbreak.