Twelve swine flu cases have been reported across the United States this flu season. While that’s nothing compared to the 2009 pandemic that sickened more than one million people and killed another 477, this particular virus is different enough from current human flu viruses that the regular flu shot will not protect against it.
The virus, referred to as “swine flu” because of its similarity to influenza viruses that usually occur in pigs in North America, is contagious and spreads from person to person through coughing, sneezing or talking in close proximity with people with influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms include:
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Body aches or headache
Even though the flu vaccine cannot protect against all swine flu cases, the CDC still recommends everyone get one, especially children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Photo by BC Gov Photos/Courtesy Flickr
Protecting yourself is pretty straightforward. Washing your hands often with soap and water is your best defense. However, if warm water and suds are not around, an alcohol-based hand rub is acceptable. Also, try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Many times people do this without even thinking, and it’s the number one way germs spread. If you’re sick, try to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has subsided.
If you already follow all of these preventative measures, you might be surprised to know you’re probably still making a few costly mistakes. Standing within six feet of a sick person, overexercising, or washing your hands incorrectly could be detrimental to your health. Check out Health.com’s list to find out what other health mishaps you’re making this flu season.
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