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Swine flu: What you need to know

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some people have been using the terms swine flu and bird flu interchangeably. But they are not the same. Here are the differences:

First off, influenza is a virus that infects people, birds, pigs and other animals.



Swine flu: pigs, occasionally transmitted to hog farm workers and veterinarians
Bird flu: also known as avian flu, is carried by birds- particularly poultry



•Speed and deadliness:
Swine flu: spreads fast, less deadly
Bird flu: spreads very slowly, much higher death rate



Swine flu: Human-to-human transmission, via cough droplets and unsanitised surfaces
Bird flu: In extremely rare cases spreads between people, but mostly from direct bird-to-human exposure.



•Where it affects your body:
Swine flu: affects respiratory system
Bird flu: attacks all systems in human body



Points to remember about swine flu:
-It is a contagious virus that is spread from person to person by droplets released into the air when an ill person coughs or sneezes.
-A person can become infected when those droplets are inhaled directly, or by touching contaminated surfaces, like door handles, faucets, telephones and then touching the mouth, eyes or nose.
-This is why it is important to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after contact with shared surfaces,devices, or utensils and after coughing or sneezing.
-The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours.
-People with the virus may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms, and up to seven days after they get sick.
-Younger children may be potentially contagious for up to ten days.



Other ways to prevent the spread and protect yourself:
-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in a trash bin after use, and wash your hands properly with soap and water.
-If you do not have tissue, sneeze in your sleeve or elbow. This blocks or limits the spread of droplets.
-Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
-Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as germs enter the body this way.
-Avoid contact with people who have flu-like illness (keep at least six feet away).
-Avoid rags, kerchiefs and shared hand towels.


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