Protect yourself against the swine flu

As of Monday evening, reports of a suspected death toll of 152 people in Mexico have many in this country very nervous. But infectious-disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Galpin says we need to keep it in perspective.

"We've already had one swine flu years ago, and it's like any other flu. Some flus have more of a propensity to be more serious, and that's because they can connect to parts of the lung better than others," said Dr. Galpin.

Doctors can treat people infected with swine flu with drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza - but you have to take them early, at the first sign of the flu.

"It's usually gonna be coughing, it's a respiratory infection, not a strep throat. It's not a a sinus infection. You're not gonna see white stuff in the back of your throat. It's a cough and can sometimes cause pain in the chest. There is often a fever, and sometimes diarrhea and chills. You feel really worn out and suddenly you may not able to move around. You feel dead tired," said Dr. Galpin.

Symptoms of the swine flu:
  • Fever of more than 100
  • Coughing
  • Joint and body aches
  • Severe headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • In some cases, vomiting and diarrhea

What can you do to prevent it? It may sound too simple, but it's true: wash your hands. And try reciting the alphabet while do you so you wash them for at least 15 seconds. Hand sanitizers, and anti-bacterial soaps work well, too.

Also you cannot get infected by eating pork, because the swine flu is airborne.

And cover your sneezes with Kleenex, or at the very least, your sleeve. Don't sneeze into your hands. If someone in your family comes down with the swine flu, Dr. Galpin's says be aware.

"I wouldn't go up and kiss them. I would wash my hands. I would wash my face, and keep the antibacterial soap around. Also try to use Kleenex when you sneeze to cover your mouth -- and that's about the best you can do," said Dr. Galpin.

One note about face masks: many experts say the paper face masks may not do too much to prevent transmission because the mask's don't filter enough of the virus out, and because it's airborne, it can go around the mask. But they can help stop the spread of the disease if worn by someone who may be infected.



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