The below information was provided on a Public Health Fact Sheet delivered to Drs. Ali on 4/27/09 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Why is swine flu important?
Approximately every 20-40 years, a new strain of the flu virus appears which is very different from the ordinary seasonal flu virus. When this happens most people do not have immunity to this new strain of flu virus and it can spread to many people, across the world, over a short period of time. This is called an influenza pandemic. Some people think that swine flu viruses might play a role in the start of the next pandemic.
What is swine flu?
Swine influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type of influenza virus. Though people do not normally get the swine flu, humans can and do get infected. From 2006 – 2008, the United States had 12 cases of swine flu. Just recently the disease has spread more than usual.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the seasonal human flu. Most common symptoms include fever, cough, and sore throat and can also include body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. Some people with swine flu have also gotten sicker and died.
Is the swine flu treatable?
People sick with this flu, and any flu, should drink enough fluids, get lots of rest, stick to healthy foods, and wash their hands frequently. It’s also important to stay home to avoid spreading the flu to other people. Antivirals are drugs that can be used to treat swine flu, as they also combat the seasonal flu. There have been a few influeznza viruses, including the most recent swine flu, that are restistant to some but not all of the antivirals. Healthcare providers may recommend that people who are sick or appear to be sick with swine flu receive an antiviral medication.
How do I get tested if I think I have the swine flu?
If you think you might have swine flu because you are experiencing the above symptoms and especially if you have recently traveled to an area where there have been human cases of swine flu, contact your healthcare provider who will decide what type of testing and treatment is right for you. You should call your health care provider in advance and let them know you might have the flu, so they can take the precautions to avoid the spread of flu to others. To diagnose any kind of flu virus, a swab of the inside of your nose needs to be collected by a doctor. Identification of a swine flu virus requires special lab testing.
Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
No, right now there is no vaccine. According to the CDC, it is unlikely that the vaccines for seasonal flu will prevent swine flu.
Is it safe to cook and eat pork and pork products?
Yes, it is safe to eat properly handled and cooked pork and pork products. Swine flu viruses are not spread by food and you cannot get swine flu from eating pork and pork products.
For more information about seasonal flu, pandemic flu, avian flu and swine flu, please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website on influenza at
and The Center for Disease Control websites on swine flu at