This information on swine flu is provided to address recent media reports about the potential for infection in the human population.
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen.
Is swine flu transmissible to humans?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people. There are several different forms of swine flu. The H1N1 or simply H1N1 is the virus strain associated with the most serious illness in humans. The H and N letters refer to surface proteins on the flu virus that determine its subtype.
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. 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.
To date, there have been n0US deaths reported among the 40 cases confirmed. However this virus has been associated with several deaths in other countries in the last few weeks.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of of seltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
What is the agency doing about this situation?
We are currently at the alert level in our response plan and we are closely monitoring the situation. The Department of Transportation has activated their communications group to provide any updated information about this health threat and we are receiving information from the DOT as well as other industry sources to give you timely updates as the situation progresses. Plans are in place should there be a need to escalate our current level of response, however at this time we recommend that basic hygiene precautions for hand washing and covering your cough be followed. We will provide you with any additional information as it is made available to us.
CDC - Presents information on the symptoms, treatment, and complications of the disease, prevention and control, the types of influenza viruses, questions and answers on symptoms, vaccination and myths.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic flu is a new disease that would affect people around the world, arriving even to the most remote corners of the world. Three criteria determine a pandemic flu and determine the pandemic phase.
- A new influenza subtype emerges to which humans have n
- Humans are infected and become very sick (or die).
- It is contagious and spreads from person-to-person efficiently.
Interestingly, the most immediate economic impacts of a pandemic might arise not from actual death or sickness but from the individuals staying at home, avoiding contact with others who may be infected.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed several checklists to assist agencies plans to prepare to influenza pandemic.
- Maintaining close contact with stakeholder organizations (APTA)
- Encouraging transit agencies to visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC’s) website for further information concerning
- FTA is participating in a rail industry conference calls with FRA/AAR, as well as DHS and TSA partners
- FTA HQ continues to reach out to transit agencies nationwide through its 10 FTA Region Offices
The following resources have more information about the swine flu: