Just a public service, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alert level to 5 out of 6 levels. This is the first time the system, since first used, reached this high level. WHO also fears that a pandemic is 'imminent'.
Inside you will find select information I personally believe that you should know immediately.
Q: What is swine flu?
A: Swine flu is a respiratory disease, caused by influenza type A.
Q: What is new about this type of swine flue?
A: The World Health Organization has confirmed that at least some of the human cases are a never-before-seen version of the H1N1 strain of influenza type A.
Q: What is the H1N1 strain?
A: H1N1 is the same strain which causes seasonal outbreaks of flu in humans on a regular basis.
But this latest version of H1N1 is different: it contains genetic material that is typically found in strains of the virus that affect humans, birds, and swine.
It seems likely that the new version of H1N1 developed from pigs, a 'melting pot' that mixed the different versions of the virus.
Q: Is it safe to eat pig meat?
A: Yes. There is no evidence that swine flue can be transmitted through eating meat from infected animals. However, it is essential to cook meat properly. A temperature of 70C (158F) would be sure to kill the virus.
Q: Can the virus be contained?
A: The virus appears already to have started to spread around the world, and most experts believe that containment of the virus in the era of readily available air travel will be extremely difficult.
WHO says that restricting flights will have little effect. It argues that screening of passengers is also unlikely to have much impact, as symptoms may not be apparent in many infected people.
In other reports, the new strain incubates for at least 1 day up to 4 days, country entry point monitors will more likely have missed infected people as the virus is still incubating.
Q: How worried should people be?
A: WHO has warned that swine flu could potentially trigger a global pandemic, and stress that the situation is serious.
There is hope that, as humans are often exposed to forms of H1N1 through seasonal flu, our immune systems may have something of a head start in fighting infection.
However, the fact that many of the victims are young does point to something unusual. Normal, seasonal flu tends to affect the elderly disproportionately.
Q: What precations should I take to minimize infection?
A: Back to basics of health care.
- Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell (like fever and cough).
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue when possible and dispose of it properly. (And inform the people around you to do the same.)
- Wash your hands properly, if you know it, the Doctor's way.
- Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
- Bring hand sanitizers and use it frequently.
Source: BBC Swine Flu Q&A
* Some additional information taken from media reports via cable - CNN, BBC, and ChannelNewsAsia.
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