While the number of cases of swine flu continues to increase, President Obama said today that the outbreak is a "cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert," but is not a "cause for alarm."


CNN is reporting that more than 100 deaths in Mexico are thought to have been caused by the swine flu, according to the country's health minister, and an additional 1,614 reported cases have been reported in the country. However, at this point only 18 of the deaths in that country have been confirmed by laboratory tests to be from swine flu.


In the United States, 20 cases have been confirmed by lab tests – in California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Kansas. The European Union’s health commissioner today recommended avoiding travel to both the United States and Mexico, and South Korea and Russia have begun screening passengers arriving from the United States or Mexico for swine flu.


Swine flu is transmitted similarly to common influenza -- when an infected person coughs or sneezes around another person. In addition, people can become infected by touching something that has been contaminated with the virus on it and then touching their face. Symptoms of the swine flu are also similar: fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all symptoms of swine flu.


To reduce your chances of getting sick, practice good hygiene – wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and then dispose of the tissue, and avoid touching your face.


If you do get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from spreading the germs. If you are severely ill, get medical treatment.


Get the latest updates from the CDC.