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10 Facts and Myths about H1N1

H1N1 influenza, popularly known as swine flu, is a respiratory infection caused by an influenza virus first documented in spring 2009—which has since been declared by the World Health Organizations a worldwide pandemic.

The words “swine flu” and “H1N1” buzz through daily conversation, media outlets, social media and web forums. With all the hype about this disease, there is sure to be a twisted sense of fact and fiction. This sense of misinformation is causing people worldwide to avoid public places, eating pork and even force individuals to wear face masks. Where does the truth about this disease really lie? Well—we will tell you with carefully drawn data from the World Health Organization, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mayo Clinic and other credible medial sources.

1) “You can get infected with H1N1 virus from eating pork.”
FICTION: Go ahead and nosh on bacon… According to the National Pork Producers Council H1N1 is a repertory illness, not a food-borne illness. The CDC also has confirmed that H1N1 virus is not spread by food, rather by the transmission from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe—so go ahead and dig in, omnivores.

2) “You can get infected with H1N1 through direct contact with pigs.”
FACT: The CDC states that the H1N1 strain can be linked from pigs to humans. These cases primarily occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs, like children at a petting zoo or farmers in the swine industry. Claims have been made that the Minnesota State Fair outbreak of 4H children were linked to contact with pigs. Most people don’t participate in hog wrestling on a daily basis, so this is not something to be terribly concerned about.

3) “This is the first swine flu pandemic that has hit the United States.”
FICTION: Though the H1N1 strain is a fairly new mutation of the influenza virus, there have been other similar swine flu outbreaks documented in history. In 1988, multiple human infections of swine flu were documented in a small Wisconsin community. There was also a spate of swine flu in 1976 in Fort Dix, New Jersey, where more than 200 people perished from a hybrid form of the current H1N1 influenza strain.

4) “If I contract the swine flu I will die. “
FICTION: Contracting the swine flu is not a death wish. Though the media hypes this disease to be deadly—swine flu can mild to severe. While the vast majority of people who have contracted H1N1 flu have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred with this disease. So far, the World Health Organization has reported 4,500 deaths from H1N1 influenza... (Just 1.2 percent of all reported cases).

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Rasmussen College
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

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