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With flu, the net can help, but doctors are best

U.S. officials urged citizens to stay informed about the situation, to be prepared, and to consult their doctor if they get sick.

As the World Health Organization raises the swine flu alert level to 5, meaning "pandemic imminent," government officials noted that it means that although the disease is contagious, it is not at pandemic level at this time.

At press time, the CDC's Swine Flu Wiki recorded 109 confirmed cases of swine flu in 11 states with one confirmed death.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, noted on a CDC webcast that while that number may seem high, it's far lower than the annual toll of regular flu, which is about 36,000 dead and millions infected.

The CDC provides health guidance, but anyone who is concerned about whether they have the flu or wants to know what to do about it should consult a doctor, said Dr. Rich Besser, acting director of the CDC.

The officials urged preparedness. Have a contingency plan in place your school sends you children home. Monitor yourself and stay informed.

Help contain the virus if you or your family members catch it. If your kids are sent home from school, don't send them to the mall or to the movies. If you're sick, don't take an airplane or use public transportation.

A sick individual should self-isolate at home, said Dr. Besser, for at least seven days or for one day after they recover, whichever is longer, and to decrease their contact with others as much as possible.

Don't expect to see border closures or travel restrictions, officials said, because the flu outbreak is already in the United States and therefore cannot be contained that way.

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