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What is swine flu?

Swine flu or swine influenza is a very contagious respiratory disease. It is called swine flu because it regularly affects pigs. However, the virus that has caused the current outbreak, which is called H1N1, can also affect people. Usually, people affected by swine flu have been in direct contact with pigs. The reason why there is such concern about the current outbreak of swine flu is that it is now spreading from person to person. That's why the World Health Organisation has raised a worldwide pandemic alert.

Do you have Flu? Symptoms and Advice

Flu is an acute respiratory illness, which usually causes high fever, severe weakness and fatigue. It makes you feel very sick, more than a normal cold.

What are the symptoms of Influenza A(H1N1)?

The symptoms are like those of regular seasonal flu and include: fever that starts suddenly, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache and muscle aches. Some people have vomiting and diarrhoea.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you get sick with a flu-like illness, phone the Flu Information Line on Freephone 1800 94 11 00. This is availalbe 24 hours a day, and has detailed advice on symptoms and how to care for yourself or someone else at home.

Most people with flu are able to recover at home within a few days without needing anti-viral medicine or medical care. If you have severe flu symptoms, or if you have a chronic illness, are pregnant, or are aged under 5 or over 65, Contact your GP/family doctor by telephone. They will decide if you need testing or treatment.

Don't go to the doctor's surgery or to a Hospital emergency department, unless it is an emergency. If you go to the doctor's office, and you have the flu, you are likely to spread it to other people. If you have symptoms of flu:

Cover your Cough: Cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing your nose
Bin your Tissues: Dispose of used tissues in the nearest waste bin
Wash your Hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water, and especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
Keep the house clean: Clean hard surfaces (e.g door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product
Avoid contact with Flu: Try to avoid close contact with sick people
Home is the best Hospital: If you are sick with flu, stay at home to avoid spreading infection to others. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

H1N1 Influenza During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There are some points to remember while you are pregnant and breast feeding:

How does swine flu spread?

Swine flu spreads from person to person in the same way as other flu viruses: through coughing and sneezing of people who are infected. Swine flu is very contagious and spreads easily, particularly in enclosed spaces where there is close contact between infected people and healthy people.

Swine viruses are not spread from eating or preparing pork.

What can I do to avoid swine flu?

Just as with regular flu, there are some things you can do to avoid infection and minimise the spread of the disease:

How long will I be contagious if I have swine flu?

People who have the swine flu virus can be contagious for up to seven days after the onset of the illness. Children, especially younger ones, may be contagious for longer periods.

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