Answering Questions About Swine Flu

Thursday, April 30th 2009, 4:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The News On 6 has received a number of viewer questions about swine flu.

What is the difference is between the virus and regular flu?

H1N1 flu starts as a respiratory disease in pigs, but when other strains of the flu infect those pigs it can mutate and infect people.

So far, one person has died of swine flu in the U.S. To put that in contrast with the typical strain of flu, the Center for Disease Control estimates there are close to 36,000 flu-related deaths every year.

Is it best to wash hands or use hand sanitizer to keep from being infected?

The CDC says the best way is to do both, but a good hand washing with soap and warm water is the best way.

Do surgical masks really work?

The World Health Organization says the masks are really intended for those who are already infected and keeps them from spreading the virus. They say it doesn't do much good to stop people from catching it.

Should I take Tamiflu?

Infectious disease specialists say it's not necessary to stock up on the medication now but it should be taken if someone starts showing symptoms.

Is it OK to travel?

The CDC is recommending that all nonessential travel to Mexico be avoided right now. The World Health Organization has not put any restrictions on international travel.

The state health department has extended its hours for its swine flu hotline. You can call 866-278-7134 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday to get answers to your questions.