White Paper: Protecting Yourself And Your Business Against Swine Flu
By Richard Dahm Senior Risk Consultant, National Hospitality Division, Wells Fargo Insurance Services | February 15, 2010
It is impossible to read the newspaper or watch the news without hearing something about swine flu. As of today, there have been multiple confirmed cases across the United States and many more worldwide. Although this is not yet pandemic influenza and may never be, the widespread incidence of this virus is causing concern. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public heath emergency for swine flu.
While swine flu is a significant health threat, if we are armed with the knowledge about what it is, how it is transmitted, and what is being done to combat the threat nationally and globally, we can be better prepared to deal with this crisis. Additionally, there are concrete steps we can take to ensure our personal safety and health, and the continued vitality of our business operations in the event of an influenza pandemic.
What is Swine Flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory illness found in pigs resulting from a subtype of influenza A virus, H1N1. There are many types of swine flu, all of which occur naturally in pigs and result in a high incidence but few deaths. Usually, people do not get swine flu, but occasionally human infections do occur. In rare cases, swine flu can spread from human to human, but in the past this was limited to small groups of up to three people. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that this strain of swine flu is contagious and can spread from human to human.
Currently, there have been reports of human infection of swine flu in the United States, as well as internationally. The CDC maintains an updated case count of human infection in the United States at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm
The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to those of seasonal influenza, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, and overall fatigue. Some have also reported stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Similar to seasonal influenza, the severity of symptoms varies greatly; pneumonia and respiratory failure have been reported especially among those with suppressed immune systems or having chronic medical conditions. Also, like seasonal influenza, bacterial infections can occur simultaneously with swine flu causing pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections.