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Swine Flu: What You Need to Know

Update: To address the worries of parents, we've created this comprehensive, panic-free Guide to Swine Flu. 

Now that a toddler in Texas has become the first person in the US to die from swine flu, you may find yourself officially freaking out, especially if you live in an area where cases have been reported (like here in NYC). It can be hard not to panic, but try to take a deep breath and get informed about the actual risks with these tips from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

1. The symptoms to look for are the same as for run-of-the mill flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. It might be hard to differentiate between allergy symptoms, which are at their peak right now. If you’re not sure if it’s allergies or something more, contact your doctor.

2. If you feel flu-ish, stay home from work. If your kids are showing symptoms, keep them home from school. Call your doctor to see if you need to be tested.

3. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Throw your used tissue in the trash. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

4. Be especially vigilant about washing hands, both yours and your child’s. Remember to have them sing Happy Birthday twice to make sure they soap up long enough.

5. There is currently not a vaccine, but officials hope to have one by early May. In the mean time, there are medicines to treat swine flu if you are diagnosed.

6. In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

-Fast breathing or trouble breathing
-Bluish skin color
-Not drinking enough fluids
-Not waking up or not interacting
-Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
-Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
-Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

-Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
-Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
-Sudden dizziness
-Severe or persistent vomiting

More info to help keep your family healthy:

Child Health Guide
5 Simple Ways to Prevent Illness
Allergy Relief