Swine flu, now called novel H1N1 flu, was first detected in the U.S. in April 2009.
Much like the seasonal flu, it passes from person-to-person. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. This was prompted by the community-level outbreaks documented in more than 70 countries, not by the severity of the flu itself.
Most people are not immune to novel H1N1 because its a new virus, and there is no vaccine. The infection reportedly causes a wide range of flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue and may also include nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. However, the same basic rules apply to stop the spread of infection: stay home if you think you are sick, wash your hands frequently (use a healthy hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable), and cover your coughs and sneezes.
To help protect your children, practice basic hand washing and make sure they know how to do this properly. Pack a healthy hand sanitizer in your childs backpack and lunch box. Make sure they know to cover their coughs and sneezes, and not to touch their eyes or nose: Mouth-to-nose or -eye contact is the primary ways this virus spreads. Be an informed parent and know the steps your childs school is taking to help keep infections at bay.
For a map of where in the U.S. the novel H1N1 has spread, see the CDCs state-by-state map.
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