Is Swine Flu Dangerous Now?
Read the timeline of the 2009 H1N1 epidemic.
How swine flu is transmitted from person to person is the same way as the more familiar seasonal flu that appears every fall. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding sick people are the best preventions. Keep in mind that "regular" seasonal flu kills tens of thousands of people each year. This fact may help keep swine flu in perspective.
The overall mortality of the flu strain in the 2009 outbreak is low so far. The WHO considers the risk posed by this strain to be "moderate."
If you are sick, it is extremely important to stay home from school and work. If you have swine flu, you could spread it; and if you don't have swine flu, you are more vulnerable to being infected if you are already sick.
People most vulnerable to the H1N1 flu are the very young and very old and those with chronic diseases. If you think you are at special risk, check with your doctor about getting a pneumonicoccal vaccine. While it won't protect you from swine flu or any other virus, it can help prevent secondary bacterial pneumonia.
A 2009 swine flu vaccine will not be available for at least several more months because influenza vaccine production and testing is time-consuming. Shots from previous years will probably not be effective.
The flu virus is not a food-borne illness and it cannot be transmitted from cooked meat to humans. While you should always follow regular food-safety guidelines when preparing pork and other foods, you cannot catch swine flu from pork.