Swine Flu: What You Can Do
Human cases of swine influenza or swine flu, a viral infection in pigs, have been identified in Mexico, the United
States, Canada and other countries. The symptoms of swine flu are generally similar to those of regular seasonal
flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. In rare cases, swine flu can
cause serious illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that the swine
flu can spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing and from human contact with pigs, but not
through eating properly prepared and cooked pork products. Visit the WHO and CDC Web sites for information
What you can do to stay healthy
You should practice good personal hygiene and follow these recommendations to avoid infection:
- Keep track of specific recommendations in your community and country because these are most
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially if you’ve come in from outside or before
eating or preparing food. You can also use alcohol-based disposable hand-wipes or gel sanitizers if your
hands are not visibly soiled (it takes 30 seconds for soap and alcohol-based hand-wipes to work).
- Clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces frequently.
- Put any sick person in their own room. While taking care of them, use a mask, take your temperature
daily, and follow the above recommendations.
- Follow your government, local, and workplace recommendations about travel. Right now, non-essential
travel to areas with outbreaks is not advised, but the situation is evolving and this recommendation
might change. Updates are available from the CDC and WHO.
- Keep in touch with your colleagues and superiors for information about your workplace.
- While in communities where flu has been detected, using a mask to cover your mouth and nose might
offer some protection if you have been in crowded areas.
What you should do if you’re sick
If you’re experiencing flu symptoms, call your health care provider and follow his or her advice. Meanwhile, take
- Avoid contact with people – especially those who are sick, frail, or vulnerable to flu – for about 7 days
after symptoms start or until symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.
- Move to a single room, if possible, and wear a mask when moving about your house.
- Do not go to work; call in sick.
- Clean your hands frequently and shower regularly.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues carefully and
- Rinse your mouth frequently with mouthwash containing chlorhexidine or similar compounds.
- Clean surfaces in your bedroom, bathroom and other rooms you use with either water and soap or a
disinfectant every day or so.
- Advise people taking care of you to wear masks, to clean their hands after contact with you or your
surroundings, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Call your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.
- Do not go to the hospital or clinic without calling first – unless you are short of breath or have other
symptoms that are more severe than what you would expect from flu.