Swine flu, otherwise known as the H1N1 virus, is a strain of virus that affects the respiratory tract in humans. It originally began as a type A influenza that originated in pigs. It is a common rumor that the virus can be transmitted by eating pork products, but that is untrue. The swine flu virus is transmitted much in the same way that a typical seasonal flu virus is transmitted.
The swine flu can be spread by direct contact and also by indirect contact. An example of direct contact would be transmitting the virus by touching an infected person with a handshake, kiss or hug. The virus can also be directly transmitted through the air if an infected person sneezes or coughs. This releases contaminated mucous droplets from their body and into the air. The droplets can remain in the air for a short period of time, which poses a danger of infection to anyone who is nearby or happens to walk past. In this case, the droplets can be inhaled into the nasal passages, the mouth, or can even enter through the eyes. The swine flu can also be transmitted indirectly, by touching objects that came in contact with the virus previously. If an infected person touches a surface such as a sink faucet, doorknob or shopping cart handle, the virus can survive until someone else touches it and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose.
The main way to prevent the spread of the swine flu is to wash your hands frequently. It is also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and to avoid contact with sick people. There is an H1N1 vaccine available although it can be in short supply. If you are infected by the swine flu virus it is important to prevent spreading it to others. Always cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. Stay home for 24 hours after your fever is gone. Plan ahead and stock up on over-the-counter medications, tissues, and other supplies so you won't need to be in public while you are contagious.