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Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks delivers fragile deal

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Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

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Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

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Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

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French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

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Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

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Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

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Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

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Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

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  • Live: France says missing Algerian plane 'probably crashed'

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  • 51 French nationals aboard missing Algerian plane

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  • Deadly Israeli strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

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  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

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  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

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  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

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  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

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  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

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  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

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  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

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  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

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  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

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  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

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  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

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SCIENCE

Factbox: swine flu outbreak

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-04-30

The H1N1 flu strain is a heretofore unknown mixture of viruses from swine, birds and humans, with early symptoms similar to those of the common flu. Here are a few facts about the nature and spread of swine flu.

What is swine flu?

Swine flu, short for swine influenza virus, is a respiratory disease caused by Orthomyxoviruses endemic to pig populations (type A flu strains H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2).

According to the World Health Organization, the current epidemic may stem from a new strain, apparently born when human and avian flu viruses infected pigs and mixed together.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms typically include fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and general fatigue. Unlike the common flu, swine flu's symptoms appear brutally and all at once. Symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting have also been reported.

Because they are similar to those of the common flu, cases are sometimes not detected early enough. If left untreated, infection from the virus can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and even death.

How does the virus spread?

Swine flu is believed to be transmitted through air and saliva. Before recent outbreaks, most people who contracted swine flu were infected through contact with sick pigs. Person-to-person transmission is likely to happen through coughing, sneezing, kissing or contact with contaminated surfaces.

Experts think that the virus cannot be caught by eating cooked pork or pork products.

How do you treat and prevent the virus?

Isolating infected people during their illness, wearing a face mask in crowded places or around infected people and thoroughly washing hands before eating and several times a day are effective preventive measures.

For treatment, antiviral drugs (prescription medicines that prevent flu viruses from reproducing in the body) work best if started within two days of the first symptom’s appearance.

What are the WHO’s pandemic alert levels?

Phase 1 – Low risk of human infection.
Phase 2 – Higher risk of human infection.
Phase 3 - Sporadic cases in people, but very little human-to-human transmission.
Phase 4 – Human-to-human transmission able to sustain community-level outbreaks.
Phase 5 – Widespread human infection, with the virus spreading among humans in at least two countries in the same region.
Phase 6 - Sustained community-level outbreaks in more than one region.

Sources: World Heath Organization, Mexican health ministry

Date created : 2009-04-26

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