WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Several cases of the deadly swine flu strain have been confirmed in the US.
While U.S. cases have been minor, health officials are urging people to take precautions.
Despite the name, swine flu is actually spread person-to-person and is very similar to seasonal flu. It's just as contagious and the symptoms are the same: cough, congestion, sore throat, muscle aches, and a high fever.
"They seem to be infectious for 24 hours before they actually start to have symptoms and then the can shed the virus to people around them for the next seven days," said Janelle Rhyan, a New Hanover County Health Department Medical Consultant.
If you are feeling lousy, you should stay home.
"Don't go out in public and run the risk or increase the chance of spreading the virus," said New Hanover County Health Department Director Eric Ireland.
If you feel flu-like symptoms go to the doctor where they will swab inside your nose and sent to the lab to check for swine flu.
Health officials say prevention is the best medicine. Wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Avoid traveling to infected areas and cough into your sleeve, not your hand.
Health officials in North Carolina are keeping an eye on the swine flu outbreak, but say they have seen no signs of the illness in the state.
Division of Health and Human Services personnel have manned the phones throughout the weekend to determine if there's been a reported case of the disease.
Division of Public Health communications coordinator Bill Furney said Sunday that his agency has been in contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and local health care providers.
Furney says the key to combating the swine flu is to pay attention to reports and to use standard prevention strategies one would use to stay healthy.
The U.S. declared a public health emergency Sunday to deal with the emerging new swine flu.
For more information about protecting yourself and your family from flu, see www.ncdhhs.gov.
For more about influenza prevention efforts in North Carolina, see www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/flu.html.
For additional health information and more about swine flu in the U.S., see www.cdc.gov/flu/swine.