April 28th, 2009
08:24 PM ET

Swine Flu FAQs

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/04/28/swine.flu/art.swine.flu1.cnn.jpg]

CNN wants to help its viewers and online users get answers surrounding the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico. We’ve had an outpouring of questions come in. The following are among the most frequently asked questions.

Q: Why is it more deadly in Mexico than anywhere else it’s surfaced?

CNN: The short answer is investigators don’t know. The deaths have occurred in healthy people, as opposed to those usually most at risk from the flu: the young, the old and those with compromised immune systems. The same thing happened in recent years with the SARS and avian flu outbreaks. The spreading virus starts a cascade within the body as the immune system overreacts. Fluid builds up in the lungs and inflammatory cells throughout the body react to the infection.

Q: Does the normal influenza vaccine offer protection against swine flu virus?

CNN: It may offer some. This particular virus seems to be a combination of several different strains: two strains of swine flu, one strain of bird flu and one strain of human flu. It’s the human flu portion of the virus that that the flu vaccine may offer some protection against.

Q: Can animals, such as dogs or cats, contract the swine flu? If so, can they transfer it to humans?

CNN: There is no evidence that dogs and cats can contract swine flu. Still, this is a new strain of swine flu virus, and investigators can’t rule it out until more tests are done. In the past, the avian H5N1 flu has infected domestic cats and at least one dog in Thailand, according to the scientific literature. In 2004, the equine H3 virus appeared to infect dogs. There have been no reports of dogs or cats spreading the flu to people.

Q: How long will it take if a person has the flu before they show symptoms?

CNN: The typical incubation period for influenza is 1-4 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The symptoms are similar to the common flu. They include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Q: How does a person contract swine flu? Does it come from pigs?

CNN: Swine flu may have come from pigs originally, but it is now being spread from among people. The virus spreads the same way the seasonal flu does. When an infected person coughs or sneezes around another person, the latter is put at risk. People can become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. An infected person can pass the virus to another before any symptoms even develop

Q: Should I avoid traveling to Mexico because of the swine flu?

CNN: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans avoid all “non-essential” travel to Mexico.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Public Health
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Shar

    We are to be vacationing in Cozumel during the first week in June. Has the swine flu been reported there? Don't know if we should cancel.

    April 29, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  2. jim

    Should we start wearing protective masks in New York City since there is reports that hundreds of students are most probably affected in this area and we have seen a death in the US from swine flu.

    April 29, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  3. Kathy

    Is anyone concerned that President Obama was recently in Mexico. Is he at risk of having contracted the Swine flu virus while there?

    April 29, 2009 at 7:52 am |

    The reason I think the swine flu virus is killing people in Mexico City is because of the high altitude. The young boy in Veracruz was lucky because the virus was not as strong as it is now, although the place is 2460 m above sea level. Those affected by the virus in NY are OK because the city is only 10 m above sea level, and perhaps those in California and Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma are also doing well because of the low altitude. I have not heard which city in California, but it must be somewhere where the altitude is not high. The virus probably likes to thrive in 'thin air'. So many floods ended up with dead animals propagating disease in the Gulf of Mexico. Take it from here.

    April 29, 2009 at 7:22 am |
  5. Jeanette DeRousse

    Could those in the US be affected differently, by the Swine Flu, due to having had childhood immunizations?

    April 29, 2009 at 6:20 am |
  6. Phillip Bynum

    My wife is on a cruise with all her sisters to Puero Vallarta, are they being advised of the swine flu outbreak and being told of the risk of going onshore. She is on the Mariner of the Seas thru Royal Carribean.

    April 29, 2009 at 5:46 am |
  7. Cheryl

    I got a call from my 6 year olds school saying a child was confirmed to have the schwinn flu. the department of health is working with the school to control this threat to them. Should i keep my child out until its safe and no threats are there? We are in Visalia Cali.

    April 29, 2009 at 3:03 am |
  8. Darius

    Andersons, the Doctors said that we should put on mask and we are not supposed to touch our nose, face mouch,so what about other part of our body like, stomach, legs hands, and back

    April 29, 2009 at 2:48 am |
  9. Bernadette

    I am very confused. The swine flu, appears to have spread to so many different countries. In my thinking, it appears to also be airborne, how else did all of this spread so quickly??
    Is it true that this can be contained, and released into the air, or is it just a physical.How else did everyone so very quickly all of the sudden have all this?
    Do masks work, or is it a hinderance, to the swine flu.?
    One more question, (please) if you have it and do not go to work, and your boss fires you because of not showing up, what can you do? After all, is it not requested by the CDC to stay at home if ailing?

    Thnak you so much,

    April 29, 2009 at 2:30 am |
  10. JORGE B:]


    April 29, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  11. david

    why is it that if the boy was the first to get the swine flue and did not pass away why is it that so many others did

    April 29, 2009 at 2:10 am |
  12. Glenda Mayer

    The reason Mexicans are dying is because the infected pesrsons
    don't go to the doctor or hospital until they feel very sick. In Mexico it
    is very common to go to a pharmacy to get a diagnosis before going to the doctor when you don't feel well, I don't know if it's because at the pharmacy you don't pay for the visit you just pay for the medicine.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:53 am |
  13. david

    with the out break going on right now i was wondering what is the rate of infection and if it isn't kept under control how long tell its a full out out brake and what is the expected death toll

    April 29, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  14. Lori

    so which is it the swine flu came from pigs or not. cause i keep hearing it is and then its not.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  15. Lori

    i don't know why people that are treated midly for this virus can't have the vaccination. they should be treated the same just as if other people have it way worse. they should make more vaccinations and not care how much its going to cost. everyone in this world is all about money. wen is that going to end. when are we going to look at the important picture here which is human life and thats worth saving. money is nothing its just paper. the gov. can easily just make more anyways whats the big deal.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  16. Mike Maguire

    I know paper masks do not work. There are sevaral levels of professional masks ($35). I know magenta colored filters do the best at filtering. What is the level required for flus and is it the same for swine as the avian? How long will each filter last...How many filters does one need for a week of protection? What wil be the sign the filter needs changing, blockage and unable to pass air? This information is espicially needed for care givers.

    How is the virus absorbed, injestion? skin absorbsion? Inhaleation? all of the above? You might want to show the public how to fit/test a professional mask.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  17. Randy Ryan Thompson

    Ok..so they are 64 confirmed cases in new york. Is it time for new yorkers to walk around with facemask now? Are you guys going to tell us it's time to put it on or are we waiting for something?

    April 29, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  18. Lori

    the gov. should of taken more action from the past swine flu. they should of been one step ahead cus now look its back again and there is no cure for it really. it shows how much our gov. really cares about the people and there lives. even our global warming it only toke till now to realize that we could be in real danger from this.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:21 am |
  19. chris garrett

    do you think that. the boy that contracked it first wouldnt die!..but no every body else is.. fallen to the flu.so the boy must havae some immuinity.... there could be something in his d.n.a that is subsiding the illness???!!??.. could there be a cure in his blood.. that might stop the imfamous flu be for it's to late..?

    April 29, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  20. juanito Perez

    Interestingly, any case of swine flu has been reported in arab countries like Iraq, Iran, Pakista, Afghanistan, Somalia,...these middle east arab countries, I mean.......they must be immune from the swine flu, huh? Lets ask them for help for prevention, prophylaxis, management, treatment.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  21. Veronica

    I think I have and idea of why this flu has been killing in Mexico only. I lived there as a child and one thing that is very different here from there is that you can buy antibiotics at the pharmacy without prescription... needless to say... people overmedicate themselves... hasn't anyone been sick before and had to change antibiotics several times until you find one that works?... well, if your body is to use to the ones they normally work... what will work?...

    April 29, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  22. Andrea Artavia

    Did you know that there are now 2 reported cases of Influenza in Costa Rica? It is the first country in Central America to report it.

    April 29, 2009 at 12:10 am |
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