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Mom's advice holds true for staving off swine flu

BREMERTON — To beat swine flu, the best advice comes in a mixture from mom and Douglas Adams: Don't panic, and always know where your hand sanitizer is. Scott Lindquist, M.D, director of the Kitsap County Health District, wants residents of Kitsap County to know that no cases of swine flu have been reported in Kitsap County. As of press time, there were in the state of Washington, according to a press release sent out by the Washington State Department of Health.

"Right now is the time to use logic and pay attention to what's going on," Lindquist said.

Swine flu is exactly what it sounds like, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is an upper respiratory infection that occurs in pigs. People aren't normally susceptible to the sickness, but people can contract it and pass it along. Past outbreaks were limited to three people, the CDC Web site states.

The sickness is thought to be spread through the same avenues as the people version of the flu: through coughing and sneezing, the CDC Web site states. It cannot be contracted through eating pork products. The swine version also carries the same effects as the people influenza virus: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. For those who have an underlying chronic illness, swine flu can weaken the immune system, making them more susceptible to other, more serious, illnesses.

People who become infected with the flu can share the infection one day before their own symptoms develop and up to seven days after they become sick.

So far, the swine flu outbreak is only affecting those Kitsap County residents who were planning a trip to Mexico, as there are travel advisories throughout Mexico. Any non-essential travel to that country should be postponed, Lindquist said.

In addition, Kitsapers can protect themselves from swine flu by doing what their mothers have always told them to do. To stave off swine flu — and a bevy of other illnesses:

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

• Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue, if one is handy, and throw it away after it's used.

• Don't share your germs. If you are sick, stay home from work. If your children are sick, keep them home from school.

• Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Above all, don't panic.

"Every cold and cough is not swine flu," Lindquist cautioned.

This article has been updated to reflect the six probable cases of swine flu in the state of Washington.

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