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Swine Flu: The Whole (True) Story

If you’ve been watching the news or talking to your friends, parents or teachers about what’s going on in the world right now, you’ve probably heard about something called the swine flu. Well, we’ve collected information from lots of different sources to help you learn all about this worldwide health scare and put any myths or rumors flying around out there to rest.

What Is Swine Flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease, which means it’s related to breathing, that usually affects pigs. It’s is caused by a strain of the influenza (flu) virus and is a bit like human flu, in that there are loads of different types and the infection is constantly changing. The disease regularly breaks out among herds of pigs but, even though it can make the animals very ill, they normally survive.

Can Humans Catch Swine Flu?
Swine flu doesn't usually affect humans and in the past those who have had it have normally been in close contact with pigs. But officials say this latest outbreak is being passed from person to person and it's thought to be passed on in the same way as human flu ... by coughing and sneezing.

So What’s Changed?
Experts at the World Health Organization say at least some of the cases are a new version of the H1N1 strain of the influenza type A virus. Doctors who have studied the bug have found that it's like other types of flu but has elements mixed into it from the flu bugs that pigs and birds can catch.

How Dangerous Is It?
Symptoms of swine flu in people seem to be similar to those of human flu, including having a fever, cough, body aches or chills, etc. Most cases that have been reported so far appear to be mild, but in Mexico several people have died from the virus. There have been confirmed cases in America, Canada and Spain, and other countries are testing patients for possible swine flu. However the cases in other countries haven't killed anyone yet, so the disease may not be as dangerous away from Mexico.

What’s Being Done To Keep Us Safe?
Governments around the world are doing all they can to stop swine flu from spreading and say they have plans in place to deal with the outbreak. U.S. officials say two types of medicine that are usually used to treat the flu have also worked well for American swine flu patients, if they get the medicine early enough. And scientists are also working on a medicine specifically designed to treat this latest strain of swine flu, although it could be a while before it's ready.

Is It Safe To Eat Pork?
Yes. Officials say there's no evidence you can catch swine flu by eating meat from infected animals, but it's important to make sure it's cooked properly.

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