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Swine flu not as easy to catch as other flus

How contagious is swine flu? Less than the novel viruses that have caused big world outbreaksin the past, new research sug-gests.

If someone in your home has swine flu, your odds of catching it are about one in eight, although children are twice as susceptible as adults, the study found. It is one of the first big scientific attempts to find out how much the illness spreads in homes versus at work or school, and who is most at risk.

The study was done by outbreak specialists from Imperial College London and from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results are in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Swine flu has sickened an estimated one-sixth of Americans since the novel virus was first identified in April.

The second wave of cases now seems to have peaked, and health experts do not know if another surge lies ahead.

People with swine flu are advised to stay home for at least a day after their fever goes away by itself to avoid spreading illness.

That puts family members at risk, but who is vulnerable and to what extent has not been known.

About 60 percent of swine flu cases have been in children, but researchers wondered: are they truly more likely to get swine flu, or just more likely to be taken to a doctor and tested for it? Are they more likely to spread the virus than adults are?

To find out, researchers studied infection patterns in 216 people with swine flu from around the United States (half of them children) and 600 people living with them.