As the number of confirmed cases of swine flu increases across North America, the first fatality has been reported in the U.S.
The number of cases in the U.S. has risen to 91 and is spread across 10 states, according to the CDC. A 22-month-old child from Mexico who came to Texas for treatment became the first fatality in the U.S.
"Although it is far too early to know the degree to which the current swine flu outbreak warrants alarm, the number of cases and the speed with which the virus has spread around the globe serves as an opportunity to [discuss] the critical nature of preparedness," says Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Swine flu presents similar symptoms to other strains of flu virus, including coughing, sneezing, fever, chills and vomiting. Some people may also experience difficulty breathing, dizziness or a rash.
At this time, it may be wise to avoid crowded places and wear masks if it is necessary to ride a subway or go to a supermarket.
Washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers frequently during the day is also good practice. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Experts have also stressed the importance of keeping the workspace clean by sanitizing desktops, phones and computer keyboards, especially if they are used by many people.
Talking to your employer about their contingency plan for a situation where many employees are unable to work may also be a good idea.