Dr. Mona Khanna answers the most common questions about swine flu.
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What is Swine Flu? Dr. Mona Khanna: Swine Flu is a respiratory disease usually found in pigs and caused by a virus. It is a type A H1N1 pig influenza. How did it infect humans? Dr. Mona Khanna: Viruses are remarkably adapt to change. They change all the time. That's one of the reasons that we have a different flu vaccine every year. We're trying to prevent infection by different viruses. Probably what happened to start the cycle of human infection by a traditional pig virus, is that the pig virus co-mingled with a human virus to create a mixed, but mostly pig new virus. This new virus happen to inherit the property of being able to infect humans. The concept of more than one virus sharing properties or genetic material is called Re-assortment. Is this new virus contagious? Dr. Mona Khanna: Yes, this mutant virus has been transmitted from human to human, that's why it's killed more than 100 people in Mexico. It's also been found in Canada, Spain, California, New York, Texas, Kansas and Ohio, possibly New Zealand, France, and Israel at the time of this taping. Because we have evolved into a global community and travel is so widespread, especially, international travel. This virus has been carried into multiple countries. Not everyone who's infected necessarily will become deathly ill, which makes it even more difficult to isolate and control. Also, infected persons can shed virus before they get sick. What are the signs and symptoms of infection with Swine Flu? Dr. Mona Khanna: Unfortunately they're not very specific. They are your typical flu symptoms, fever, cough, decrease in appetite, body aches and fatigue. But the key to whether or not you might have this type of flu, is if you've been exposed to somebody who has it. Can Swine Flu be treated? Dr. Mona Khanna: Yes, we have anti-viral medications that will treat Swine Flu. They can also be given to prevent infection with Swine Flu to begin with. Will a vaccine prevent me from becoming infected with Swine Flu? Dr. Mona Khanna: The vaccine that exists to prevent infection with Swine Flu is only given to pigs. There's no vaccine for humans. But the same anti-viral medications used to treat Swine Flu in humans can also be used to prevent infection with Swine Flu in humans. Can I get Swine Flu from eating pork products? Dr. Mona Khanna: No, properly cooked pork products will eliminate all viruses including the Swine Flu virus, as well as bacteria and other organisms. Am I protected from Swine Flu if I got the flu vaccine last year? Dr. Mona Khanna: No, the annual influenza vaccine given to humans offers no protection against Swine Flu. There are currently no Swine Flu vaccine available for humans. What can I do to protect myself against Swine Flu? Dr. Mona Khanna: Use the same precautions for protecting yourself against any flu vaccine. First, stay clear of sick people, and if you're sick especially the cough and cold symptoms, consider staying home unless you're less contagious. Then, protect yourself and others by doing simple commonsense things. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. If you don't have a tissue, use your elbow. Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitizer frequently, especially after sneezing, shaking hands with others and touching common areas such as door handles and work equipments. Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth throughout the day. If you're in a community where the virus has been detected, follow proper health advice, including wearing face masks if necessary. Why is the world so concerned about the Swine Flu? Dr. Mona Khanna: The world is so concerned about Swine Flu because flu pandemics have the potential to kill millions of people if not controlled. The worst pandemic, the Spanish Flu in 1918 killed upwards of 50 million people worldwide. Public health principles and practices are implemented in full force globally at the first sign of a new virus to ensure that this type of death toll never occurs again. Public hea