Today I asked one of my colleagues "what makes swine flu different from the regular flu bug?"
Her answer: "One is being talked about all day on TV and the other is not"
She has a point but that's not the whole story. Since we began covering the swine flu these have been my biggest questions:
-What makes this different from the regular seasonal flu? (Seasonal flu kills 36,000 Americans each year)
-Why can't they come up with a vaccine for it?
-How do you know if you or your loved ones have swine flu?
-Can you get it from eating pork?
If you are wondering the same things, here's a quick explainer based on what we've gotten from all of the experts we've talked to over the past few days, including our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CDC Acting Director Dr. Richard Besser, and the president himself.
The biggest reason the swine flu is a concern is that swine flu is harder to treat or fight, because it’s a new strain and thus people have little natural immunity to it according to experts. Here's what Dr. Carlos del Rio of the Emory University School of Medicine told VOA News.
"This is a totally new virus... You have a virus to which there's no pre-vaccination, there's no prior immunity. And, therefore, the mortality rate may be higher than other influenza viruses."
Coming up with a vaccine takes time. And as the CDC acting director said today on our air, they are fast tracking a swine flu vaccine. Whether or not they choose to recommend using it is still apparently up in the air. Watch the interview
So how do you know if you have it? Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; much like regular flu. So if you have those, stay home, avoid others in your household, and call your doctor to see if you should get tested or take an anti-viral.
Lastly, experts say you cannot get it from eating pork, according to the USDA. In fact, there’s no evidence that even touching raw pork infected with the virus is risky, says the USDA.
Hope this helps,