Flu FAQ

What is H1N1 Flu?
H1N1 Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.

How is it spread?
Human infection with flu viruses from pigs most likely to occur from close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu in people, which is mainly through the coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Can I get H1N1 flu by eating pork?
No. You cannot contract H1N1 Flu by eating pork.

Will my flu shot protect me from swine flu?
No, the vaccine formulated for the 2008-2009 flu season was not developed for H1N1 Flu.

What are the symptoms of H1N1 Flu?
The symptoms of H1N1 Flu in people are similar to those of regular human seasonal influenza. They include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, and aches and pains. 

What should you do if you have symptoms?
If you get mild flu symptoms, stay home to heal more quickly and prevent spread to others. If you get more severe flu symptoms, contact a health care provider. If you get flu symptoms and have had contact with someone who has recently arrived from Mexico, contact a health care provider.

How can I prevent getting or spreading swine flu?
Swine flu is a lung disease which affects the whole body. It is contracted mainly by breathing in the virus on droplets from cough. The steps you take to help protect yourself, and prevent its spread are the same steps you would take to prevent the spread of regular seasonal flu: 

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Should I wear a face mask?
Ordinary face masks are not likely to provide significant protection and are currently not recommended in the US. In the event of widespread infection in a given area this recommendation might change.  The American Lung Association suggests that people follow the advice of local authorities.

Are treatments available?
The CDC reports that there are anti-virals drugs that are effective against swine flu, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

Where can I get more information about H1N1 Flu?
The latest information on this occurrence of swine flu can be found at the CDC H1N1 Flu resource page. CDC is updating this page regularly, and will be the best ongoing source of up to date information. The CDC has set up a toll-free CDC information telephone hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO.