Swine FLU : Questions and answers
1. What is swine flu?
Swine influenza (sometimes called swine flu) is a strain of the influenza virus that usually affects pigs, but which may also make people sick.
2. Is human swine influenza contagious? How does it spread between people?
Yes, this virus is contagious. Since some of the people who have become ill in the United States and Mexico have not been in direct contact with pigs, we know that the virus has spread from person to person.
More investigation is needed on how easily the virus spreads between people, but it is believed that it is spread the same way as regular seasonal influenza.
Influenza and other respiratory infections are transmitted from person to person when germs enter the nose and/or throat. Coughs and sneezes release germs into the air where they can be breathed in by others. Germs can also rest on hard surfaces like counters and doorknobs, where they can be picked up on hands and transmitted to the respiratory system when someone touches their mouth and/or nose.
3. What can I do to protect myself from infection?
The Public Health Agency advises Canadians to:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer
- Cough and sneeze in your arm or sleeve
- Get your annual flu shot
- Keep doing what you normally do, but stay home if sick
- Check www.fightflu.ca for more information
- Check www.voyage.gc.ca for travel notices and advisories
- Talk to a health professional if you experience severe flu-like symptoms
4. Are all cases of human swine influenza severe?
No. To date, the cases of human swine influenza reported in Canada are milder than those reported in Mexico. The cases reported in Mexico have been more severe, involving mostly healthy young people who rapidly progressed from mild illness to severe respiratory distress, within an average of five days.
5. How are antiviral medications made available if needed?
Antiviral medications are prescription drugs. Initially, they may be obtained from a pharmacy with a regular prescription.
Source: The Public Health Agency of Canada