Though rumors about Swine Flu have been floating around since the beginning of the H1N1 outbreak, it’s hard to know what to believe and what to ignore.
To help you weed fact from fiction, here’s a list of common misconceptions about the virus, along with a little advice from us on how to deal with the symptoms.*
- The seasonal flu vaccine protects you from it. Though it’s still in development as of this writing, swine flu requires its own unique vaccination.
- You have to be around pigs to get it. Though that’s how the older virus originally developed, this new strain is spread from person to person—none of whom have had contact with pigs.
- You can get it by eating pork, bacon or other food originating from pigs. Again, the virus no longer originates in swine, so you can’t ingest it eating pig products.
- Purposely exposing yourself can lessen its severity and help you gain immunity. According to the CDC, there’s no way to predict whether a particular case will be mild or severe.
- Schools and businesses should close to keep people from getting it. That’s going overboard. Sick children and workers should simply stay home to prevent spreading the virus.
- When it touches surfaces, it dies immediately. The virus can live on objects for up to 48 hours. Use household disinfectant to help kill it.
- It’s out of control (not yet, anyway). Though officially classified a pandemic, as of this writing, its severity has been only moderate.
- Only the elderly and unhealthy die from it. Many deaths and hospitalizations have occurred in young people five to 24 years of age.
- You should rush to the emergency room immediately if you suspect you have it. Contact your doctor and convey your symptoms if you think you might have it. Let him or her decide if you should be tested.
- Your doctor can tell if you have it from a physical exam. It takes a specialized lab test to know for sure, and only a doctor can administer it.
- If you find out you have it, you should get on anti-viral drugs right away. Most patients make full recovery from swine flu without treatment within a week.
- Face masks and respirators completely filter it from the air. It’s not clear how effective these methods are at preventing the spread of H1N1. Only those at high risk of severe illness from influenza might benefit from wearing masks or respirators.
If you have health insurance and experience H1N1 symptoms, your policy should cover your medical treatment in full, up to its limits. If you’re not sure how much medical coverage you have, consult your insurance agent or company.
For free insurance quotes and subsequent medical help, complete the quote box at the top of this page.
*This advice is meant as a general guideline only and should not replace your doctor’s professional opinion. If you are ill and suspect Swine flu, please seek medical advice to help determine the correct course of action.