Swine Flu: Where to find virus, track outbreak, learn symptoms, more

Swine Flu: Where to find virus, track outbreak, learn symptoms, more

Summary: The Swine Flu, officially the Swine influenza A (H1N1) virus, is spreading rapidly around the world. Here's a guide to what's going on, what you can do and where to stay updated on the situation.

TOPICS: Security, Health

The Swine Flu, officially the Swine influenza A (H1N1) virus, is spreading rapidly around the world. Here's a guide to what's going on, what you can do and where to stay updated on the situation.

The Situation

The contagious virus has been identified on several continents, including North America (Canada, Mexico, United States) and Europe (Spain) and suspected cases in Australia and South America.

Swine Flu is said to be responsible for at least 149 deaths (update: 152) (update: 153, one in Texas) (update: 170+, one in Texas), all in Mexico, where it is said to have started.

In the United States and Canada, Swine Flu has been confirmed in New York City, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, California, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, with possible cases in North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Indiana and Michigan.

In Europe, Swine Flu has been confirmed in Spain and the U.K. (Scotland) and are under investigation in the Czech Republic, Denmark and Russia.

Cases are also being investigated in Israel, Colombia, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.

Click for complete map of outbreaks

What's being done

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) is working very closely with officials in states where human cases of Swine Flu have been identified, as well as with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization.

A public health emergency has been declared in the United States.

The CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak.

Laboratory testing has found the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir.

The Virus

Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms. That includes:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue

Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.

How it spreads

The virus spreads the same way a typical seasonal flu does, via coughs, sneezes (within a few feet) or touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. An infected person can pass it on before they even develop symptoms. The incubation period for most flu viruses is 3 to 5 days, and the period for swine flu is disputed, and has been reported as anywhere from 1-5 days.

There is no evidence yet that this year's seasonal flu vaccine will protect against the swine flu.

You cannot get swine flu from eating pork products.

What you can do

If you believe have flu symptoms, stay home. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw out used tissues and wash your hands. If you've got flu symptoms and you've recently been to a high-risk area such as Mexico see your doctor.

Your doctor may not be able to determine whether you have swine flu, but he or she would take a sample from you and send it to a state health department lab for testing. Your doctor may write you a prescription for Tamiflu or Relenza, but neither is required, as Swine Flu patients have recovered without medication.

If you were immunized with the Swine Flu vaccine in 1976, it probably won't protect you now.

Where to stay up-to-date

[Pictured above: Speakal iPig iPod docking station, a fine device completely unrelated to flu outbreaks]

Topics: Security, Health

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • healthmap.org


    Are good sources.
    • I just don't get it

      I checked your healthmap.org link. It has only 184 cases listed at this point.

      So why is the word "pandemic" being tossed around?

      There are about 6 billion human beings. By percentage, there have been [i]less than one millionth of one percent[/i] cases reported world-wide.

      Everything I'm reading about swine flu is that it has the same symptoms as "ordinary" flu. It has the same treatment; you take the same precautions. The CDC is reporting no greater risks with swine flu than any other viral influenza we deal with every year.

      So what's the big deal?

      If you get sick, stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids. If you don't get better after a few days, go see the doctor.

      If you ask me, there are some who are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, a tempest in a teacup. People who are afraid are easier to control. Plus, people who are always keyed up and stressed are more likely to get sick... thus "proving" that the panic-mongers were all right to begin with. (not you, Mr. Nusca! I'm thinking more along the lines of CNN...)
      • Pandemic doesnt mean what you think it does

        pandemic simply refers to an epidemic that has spread to multiple geographic areas, with confirmed cases in north america and europe its not incorrect to refer to this as a pandemic

        what IS incorrect is most peoples notion that "pandemic" means millions infects with thousands dying every day
      • You Dont Get it Because you dont know what "Pandemic" Means..

        First lets put you right about "Pandemic.."

        Pandemic is not about numbers, it's about borders.. This disease has crossed pretty vast areas and is evident across several countries.. The amounts of infection are at this time and for this word meaningless.

        The amounts of countries hosting the disease are where "pandemic" becomes a valid word..

        BTW WHO has studied the situation (As it does continually..)and states there is no pandemic situation yet... It's a level four.

        NO PANDEMIC.

        Got it? Close but not yet, things could easily go the other way as this virus will mutate for better or worse. There is no way to predict this or be clever about it and say "Told you so.." if it fizzles out.. It could easily become more serious.

        It could get better or worse, so the WHO is tracking cases atm and keeping us informed. That is a good thing isnt it?

        If/When it gets to level five.. Then you can bleat defensively that over a hundred deaths are nothing in the great scheme of things, even though those left behind, families, affected by those deaths would not agree with you and for good reason.

        Level five will signal that this disease has reached a predetermined level of saturation and even then does NOT mean that "Millions wil die.." it just means that lots of countries have cases (However few or many..) of the disease.

        Pandemic = Geographical. That's all.

        True Patriot
        • Gee - you're so smart!

          That kind of lecture is uncalled for.
          • So Smart?

            Uncalled for..? Yes.

            But deserved. I hardly think the hundred or so that died could have "Kept warm and went went to bed with a hot drink.." to save themselves.

            What I found gauling about the post was the sense that his armchair arrogance about common sense precautions and terminology was so easily treat with contempt from a base of uninformed ignorance.

            You can ignore that if you like, I couldnt. I make NO apology.
            True Patriot
          • Hmmm... Spanish Influenza

            I hope this doesn't turn out to be some wierd flu like the post WWI Spanish influenza.

            Now THAT was a PANDEMIC.

            AND DEADLY.

            Can you say 20 million? I knew you could...

            On a serious note... hmmmm... it doesn't hurt to toss out some info on it, including using the tech we have which the people 90-100 years ago didn't have.

            By the time they received the info, they already had the flu. Go to bed, sleep it off.

            Yeah, right...
          • Explanation welcomed

            Thanks "True Patriot" for clarifying what is meant by "pandemic".

            I have heard the word quite often, but have never bothered to find out what it really means - I've always wrongly assumed (as, perhaps, many other people might also have wrongly assumed) that it had something to do with the number of deaths.

            Incidentally, with my pedantic hat on (and my tongue firmly in my cheek), I think that you meant galling (rather than gauling) - which is strange as we use the word "gallic" for the French (who are from Gaul).

            At least I think that it's the same in the USA (we certainly would use the word "galling" here in the UK), but I'm always willing to be corrected if anyone knows better about how English is spoken (or written) outside England.
          • Galling..

            Maybe I was saying it like Peter Sellers might have Ha! :) Must employ that spell-checker. :)
            True Patriot
          • Actually the explanation is wrong...

            It has nothing to do with borders. According to the World Health Organization. a pandemic can start with 3 conditions are met:

            -Emergence of a disease new to a population.

            -Agents infect humans, causing serious illness.

            -Agents spread easily and sustainably among humans.

            It may indeed spread across borders, but has no relevance to the name.
      • Level of severity

        Same symptoms don't necessarily equal same level of severity.

        Even if the severity level was that same if it took a lot longer to get over many could still die from dehydration and other complications/opportunistic infections.
      • Do you have any ethics?

        I am so glad I don't know you and pray that I am far from you. Is not one death enough "proof" for you? What is required to make one like you, notice it is time to take precautions to prevent "FURTHER SPREAD OF A KILLER VIRUS"????????
        It isn't panic.... that is what people like you prefer to call it when too lazy to do your part to help prevent deathtolls around our world. BTW, we only have one and have done pretty much all we can to it without destroying it, completely, but perhaps, that doesn't matter to you, either since it may not be in your life time. You don't care about leaving a legacy of health and well being, do you? God help you.... and our luck, is that you will never become ill and die.... you will live on and on, mocking those who genuninely care about human beings, regardless of which country they live in.

        I joined ZDNet just to write this and even though it may not matter to you, it is therapeutic for me to express the anger I feel when I know another person from my race can be so insensitive and cold. It is a big deal, to me and that is all that matters!
  • RE: Swine Flu: Where to find virus, track outbreak, learn symptoms, more

    It is important to stay informed about situations like these. ,
    Education is far more effective than panic in situations like
    these. Here is a link to a great story about the impact of
    swine flu,--very well sourced:

    • Learn to discern...

      I agree, it is vital to educate yourself to the truth of things.

      Because then, the peddlars of lies can have no influence.

      The following article raises many interesting points.


      And ask yourself, who benefits by creating fear and panic, rather than
      resolving all issues rationally?

      Who benefits in times of chaos?

      The best advice is to stay calm, think rationally, ask the right
      questions, learn the truth of things, and apply that knowledge to your
  • RE: Swine Flu: Where to find virus, track outbreak, learn symptoms, more

    well this is an interesting strain of the flu and also how it is spreading and "who" the swine flu is infecting it will be interesting how it progresses.
  • RE: Swine Flu: Where to find virus, track outbreak, learn symptoms, more

    I would like to know if you can get the virus from produce grown in Mexico?
    • We could.

      Can't we assume that all imports from Mexico contain swine flu?

      I don't like to jump into conclusions, but it's quite alarming to me even though I do not panic. Education is key to me, rather than panicking.
      Grayson Peddie
      • Exactly.

        We could all call this post and thread "media hype", but I haven't had TV nor had the daily paper delivered in 2.5 years easily. I get some news from the trusty old PC here and yes - watched the presidential debates / etc by streaming video.

        To me, unless it's a nuclear attack (newkewler for the Bush / Palin fans) it won't reach me before I have time to read about it.

        Since I have no bunker to hunker in, I do my best... :^)
    • Dunno... But...

      ... since the world is globalizing too fast for its own good - it seems - a small thing like a Swine Flu shouldn't upset the applecart too much.

      Attrition in the world "play" leaves a few more actors out of the next script.

      Instead of monitoring our incoming produce, it seems that we take a lot for granted with those we deal with.

      We have seen transmitted nasties come in by different methods - unfortunately, we don't live in isolation anymore.

      That seems to be our blessing and our curse.
    • serious question, serious answer.

      Yes, although the usual human-to-human transmission paths are more direct. (hand-to-hand, aerosol from coughs and sneezes, hand to doorknobs and back to face, shared telephones, etc.)

      If you don't peel it, wash it THOROUGHLY. And remember, there's quite a few cases in San Diego County too-- lots of American produce comes from the Imperial Valley, treat that the same way. Exactly why North Carolina shows so many hits, I don't know-- but there's lots of food processing there too.

      Basically, trust NOTHING which goes near your face. Wash your hands well before eating, and do NOT touch a doorknob directly when you leave the bathroom where you washed-- if you can't just shove the door open with your body, use a fresh paper towel.
      Rick S._z