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Swine flu: What you need to know

Published: 
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.

 

 

•Origin:
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

 

 

Spread:
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.