The following information is provided by the BIMC Hospital in Bali.
What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease in pigs caused by the influenza A virus. It causes high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate amongst pigs throughout the year. Studies show 30-50% of commercial US swine have been infected with swine flu. The mortality rate is 1-4%.
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, they do sometimes cross the species barrier to cause disease in humans. The current human swine flu outbreak is caused by the H1N1 subtype.
What are the symptoms in humans?
The symptoms are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, coughs sore throats, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infections in people.
How do people get infected?
Humans can get infected from direct contact or close proximity to infected pigs, so people working in the pig industry are most susceptible, Human-to-human transmissions can also occur. It spreads mainly through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with the swine flu virus on it. (e.g. surfaces contaminated by droplets from a cough or sneeze and then touching their mouth or nose before washing their hands.) The virus is thought to able to live approximately 2 hours on surfaces.
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products are safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Centigrade kills the swine flu virus.
What are the major concerns?
Although the current swine flu does not have a high mortality rate, it is known to be highly contagious. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. When influenza viruses from different species infect a single subject, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge.
The concern is if the new virus has a high morbidity and mortality rate (i.e. spread easily person-to-person and have a high death rate) then a pandemic can occur. The disease can cause a global outbreak and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.
How does it affect Bali?
Currently, there have been several confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in Bali among tourist visitors. There have been no deaths linked to the disease in Bali with all victims treated in isolation wards of local hospitals. (Information updated.)
Trips to Prevent Flu Transmission
Influenza can spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu virus on it (e.g. surfaces contaminated by droplets from a cough or sneeze) and then touching their mouths or nose before washing their hands.
What can I do to protect myself from getting flu?
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue ion the trash after use.
Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based cleansers are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing and sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
What is the best technique for washing my hands or avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soaps and water and clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash you hands with soap and warm water that you wash for 15-20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drug stores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol kills the germs on your hands.
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