Swine Flu: What to Look For and How to Protect Yourself

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

While federal, state, and local officials are working to prevent an outbreak of swine flu, health officials say taking easy, preventative steps is the best way to help them out and keep you safe.

"They're shutting down schools and big buildings," said Grand Valley resident Corrinne Pitman. "And it's kind of scary."

"I think anybody with common sense will get a little worried about it," said Grand Valley resident Clark Messick.

Grand Valley residents say an outbreak of TV and newspaper images from Mexico -- where a strain of swine flu is being blamed for the deaths of dozens -- has them on guard as an outbreak of the disease makes its way across the U.S.

"It's not affecting our day to day lives," said Pitman. "If you wash hands and all that kind of stuff, I think at this point we'll be okay."

"I'm not overly worried about it, but at the same time I think people need to take precautions they need to take," said Messick.

And that's just what local health officials say needs to happen, as the country deals with what they say is just the beginning.

"We anticipate that there will be more cases," said Kristy Emerson, spokesperson for the Mesa County Health Department. "Possibly in Colorado."

The Centers for Disease Control says although swine flu has not historically infected humans, it has the same characteristics as any other strain of the flu. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. More severe strains can cause more serious health problems or intensify existing conditions.

"If you do develop flu like symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately," said Emerson.

Health officials say with this most recent strain, their immediate concern is that although seemingly mild, it's very contagious.

"Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, your nose, your mouth," said Emerson. "That's how germs are transmitted."

Health experts also recommend covering your nose and mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing, staying away from people who are sick, and staying home from work or school if you get sick.

"No reason to panic," said Emerson. "We just want to make sure folks are aware."

"If we take the proper precautions, I think we can protect ourselves," said Messick.

The CDC says antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir have been effective in fighting swine flu.

Health officials want to remind residents they cannot get swine flu from eating pork products. No official statements have been released urging citizens to stay away from Mexico.

For more information on swine flu, click on the link below:

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