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Associated Press

5 Sites for Understanding the Swine Flu (H1N1 Influenza A) Pandemic

May 01, 2009
by Rachel Balik
The World Health Organization has increased the pandemic alert level of swine flu to 5: should you be worried? Learn the facts about the disease doctors call H1N1 influenza A, how likely you  are to get it and what you can do to protect yourself.

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Reading the news these days can be a tad nerve-wracking. It seems as if another alarming headline pops up every minute. And even though we know that the media often resorts to scare tactics to draw in readers, completely ignoring the news isn’t the best idea in the case of a pandemic like swine flu. Here are some good sources of balanced information about the swine flu, also known as H1N1 influenza A.

Start with Bloomberg’s Q&A, “Understanding Swine Flu’s World Spread.” Not only does the article cover the basics, such as symptoms and diagnosis of the disease, but it also explains exactly what a pandemic is and why this particular strain of flu is so dangerous. Our immune systems may have no defense against a new type of flu, and at present, there is no vaccine against this strain of swine flu.

The swine flu situation is changing rapidly, as more cases are supported. Keep abreast of the most recent U.S. news about the spread of the disease at the Swine Flu Index page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC page offers no-hype daily updates, including the number of confirmed cases in the U.S., fresh alerts and travel guidelines. You’ll also find basic information about the disease and helpful guidelines for keeping yourself healthy.
The CDC provides statistics for cases reported in the U.S. If you’re looking for information about the international spread of swine flu, the WHO is your go-to spot. WHO is responsible for monitoring and reacting to the pandemic, and the page will keep you abreast of everything WHO is doing to handle the situation. The Influenza A (H1N1) page posts alerts about developments in the spread and management of the disease, and provides numerous “guidance documents” with specific advice for professionals, policy makers and patients, as well as a media center where you can hear and view statements from health officials.

If you still require more in-depth information, Medline Plus is a good place to go spend an hour or two researching the disease. You’ll find links to sites with overviews of the situation and information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, as well as numerous journal articles and multimedia about the disease.

Many people are wondering how swine flu will affect their travel plans. The sites listed above provide the latest information about travel guidelines. No doubt, your primary concern is staying healthy; however, you might also be wondering if you’ll lose money when you cancel that previously scheduled trip to Mexico. Smart Money answers questions about travel industry policy during the swine flu pandemic.

The article lays out how airlines, cruise lines and hotels are reacting to the situation, whether you’ll get your money back and how easy it is to change dates of travel. While almost all airlines have implemented a special swine flu policy that allows for free date changes on flights to Mexico, most hotels and cruise lines appear to be maintaining some restrictions on refunds.
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