While most people consider the swine-flu crisis primarily a health issue, it has the potential to be a serious personal-finance concern. Here are a few steps you can take to limit your economic exposure to the swine flu:

Take basic precautions: A stay in a hospital could spell financial ruin. With many people out of a job and no longer covered by health insurance, the cost for treatment could be massive. Even a mild case of swine flu could end up costing hundreds of dollars in doctors' visits, treatments and tests, and lost work hours.

The best way to come out financially sound during a crisis like this is to make sure you and your family don't get the swine flu in the first place. There are a number of steps to take to greatly reduce the risk of getting the swine flu (or any flu), such as washing hands often, keeping hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding crowded areas. It's also a good time to make sure your financial emergency kit is up to date and in order.

Prepare beyond the basics: While taking basic precautions is essential, being proactive makes sense. Doing so will cost money upfront but will save hundreds over the long run if it ends up helping you avoid getting the swine flu. While there's no recommendation in the U.S. to wear surgical-type masks as there is in Mexico, purchasing a good supply to have on hand before they run out is a good idea.

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