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Swine Flu 101 From Michigan Auto Law Personal Injury Lawyers

April 28, 2009 by Steven M. Gursten

As personal injury lawyers who handle automobile negligence lawsuits, we normally write about car accidents and truck accidents in Michigan. But given the recent headlines regarding the national outbreak of swine flu, our lawyers wanted to pass along these important tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s our most sincere hope that our clients and friends are protected from this new strain of influenza.

Swine Flu FAQs:

What is Swine Influenza?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swines throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months, similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

Can humans catch swine flu?

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry). In addition, there have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. For example, an outbreak of apparent swine flu infection in pigs in Wisconsin in 1988 resulted in multiple human infections, and, although no community outbreak resulted, there was antibody evidence of virus transmission from the patient to health care workers who had close contact with the patient.

How common is swine flu infection in humans?

In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported. (According to the World Heath Organization, the number of deaths suspected to be from swine flu rose Monday to 152 in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, with nearly 2,000 people believed to be infected. The number of U.S. cases rose to 48 after further testing at a New York City school. Other U.S. cases have been reported in Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. Worldwide there were 73 cases, including six in Canada, one in Spain and two in Scotland.)

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160?F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

How does swine flu spread?
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?
There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

Protecting Yourself from the Swine Flu

The CDC says there are everyday things Michigan residents can do to stay safe:

o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
o Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
o Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
o If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Personal Injury Lawyers of Michigan Auto Law

Meanwhile, if you have been in an auto accident and don’t know where to turn, consider Michigan Auto Law. We are Michigan’s largest law firm practicing exclusively in car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases. Because our lawyers have been helping injury victims for more than 50 years and three generations, we understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships you’re experiencing from the accident. Our firm is large enough to provide the resources to handle the most challenging cases, yet small enough to provide the personalized, responsive attention that every client deserves.

Michigan Auto Law has achieved more million dollar verdicts and settlements for automobile accident injury and death cases than any other law firm in Michigan. Year after year, our law firm has unmatched success helping people. Please call (800) 777-0028 for a free, no obligation case evaluation. For more information about our law firm, please read our quick facts.

— Photo, courtesy of Creative Commons, by Latente

Related information:

Beware of Dangerous Toys

Protecting Your Rights: Prepare Before a Car Accident in Michigan

Do I have a Case? When You Need a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer

Time Limits for Filing Car Accident Claims

To better serve you, Michigan Auto Law has personal injury law offices in Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Sterling Heights and Grand Rapids.


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