April 28th, 2009
04:16 PM ET

More of what you wanted to know about swine flu

We're using CNN's newsgathering and research resources to get answers to some of our viewers' most frequently asked questions. This post focuses on prevention methods and protecting yourself and your family. For more topics, see our previous posts.

Q: What effective tools are there for preventing the spread of the virus?

CNN: As simple as it sounds, hand washing is a very effective tool for preventing the spread of the virus. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose as much as possible. Also, if you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve. If you're sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others.

Q: How long can viruses live on surfaces?

CNN: Some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces such as ATMs, doorknobs, computer keyboards and money.

Q: How long are people contagious?

CNN: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those who become sick not go out for at least seven days after the symptoms start. The CDC says you should stay home an extra day after you feel better. Children are considered to be contagious longer than adults, possibly up to 14 days.

Q: Should people avoid taking public transportation, such as the subways?

CNN: There's no reason to avoid public transportation or other crowded places unless you live in a community that has been affected.

Q: Should parents restrict their children from public places? How long should they be removed from situations with a lot of people and other children?

CNN: Scientists don't know whether the outbreak will escalate.  For now, parents should use reasonable discretion, said Dr. Anne Moscona, an infectious disease expert at Cornell University.  If large gatherings are not essential, they should be avoided.  The situation is being closely monitored and there have been no warnings issued in the United States, but parents should be aware of any updates from their local officials.

For more information, go to "How should I protect myself?" and check back on Dr. Gupta's blog for answers to frequently asked question.

Filed under: Global Health • H1N1 Flu

April 28th, 2009
12:37 PM ET

More swine flu answers

CNN is helping you get answers about the outbreak of swine flu. Here are more of the most frequently asked questions from viewers.

Q Is it still safe to eat pork?

CNN: Yes, pork is safe to eat. You cannot catch swine flu from food, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists. Also, there is no evidence touching raw pork infected with the virus poses a risk, the USDA says. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees kills all viruses.

Q: Is there any type of vaccine that exists for this virus?
CNN: There is no vaccine that has been developed specifically for this virus.

Q: Different news sources have conflicting information about the number of countries affected so far. How many countries have been affected by this outbreak?
CNN: By midday Tuesday, the World Health Organization had confirmed cases in Mexico, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and New Zealand. The Israeli health ministry is reporting two cases.

Q: I am traveling to Mexico. Are there any precautions that we should take to protect ourselves?

CNN: At this time, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. Changes to this recommendation will be posted on the CDC Web site .

If you must travel to an area that has reported cases of swine flu, the CDC recommends anyone at high risk of severe illness from influenza –people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease and the elderly - are urged to take prescription antiviral medications - Tamiflu or Relenza - for prevention of swine influenza during travel. Practice healthy hygiene, such as washing your hands often with soap and water, using hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol, and avoid close contact with sick people, to help stop the spread of swine flu.
Travel expert Peter Greenberg gives advice to the question: “Should people avoid travel?”

For more information, go to Answers to swine flu questions.
and check back on Dr. Gupta’s blog for answers to frequently asked questions.

Filed under: Global Health • H1N1 Flu

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.