What is Swine Flu?
Definition of Swine Flu
The Swine Influenza virus is a respiratory virus endemic to pig (swine) populations.
There are 3 different strains of Swine Flu, they are Swine Flu Virus A, Swine Flu Virus B, and Swine Flu Virus B. All three strains of the virus come from the family of RNA viruses and all three genera can infect humans.
Transmission of swine flu from pigs to humans who work with pigs, was documented in a studed performed by the University of Iowa in 2004.
Once a human is infected with swine flu, the virus rapidly spreads from human to human, much like that of the common, seasonal flu.
CDC Influenza Division: 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic
Symptoms of Swine Flu
There are several symptoms of swine flu. If you believe you or someone you know has swine flu, compare your symptoms with the following swine flu symptoms:
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Swine Flu Transmission and Treatment
Swine Flu is spread when an infected person coughs and/or sneezes, However, Swine Flu can also be spread by touching something with the virus on it, then touching your nose or mouth.
Swine Flu can remain contagious for up to 10 days but is the most contagious in the first five days of infection. Swine Flu can be treated within the first 48 hours of Swine Flu symptoms with antiviral medications such as Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and Relenza (Zanamivir).
There is no vaccine available to prevent Swine Flu, although medical experts agree that antivirals (mentioned above) can prevent serious flu complications. Since the 2009 outbreak, people who have Swine Flu symptoms should seek immediate medical advice to determine the cause of illness.
Is Swine Flu Dangerous?
The mortality rate for patients with Swine Flu is less than 10 percent. Nevertheless, the rapid mutation of the influenza strain can make swine flu difficult to treat. For example, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, interim Deputy Director for CDC Science and Public Health, the swine flu cases reported in 2009 are the result of "an unusually mongrelised mix of genetic sequences."
The American swine flu cases reported in 2009 have been made up of genetic elements from four different influenza viruses - North American swine flu, North American avian flu, human flu and a swine flu virus typically found in Asian and European countries.
Prevent the Spread of Swine Flu
Although Swine Flu can spread through human contact, there are a number of things you can do to prevent yourself from getting swine flu. Take the following precautions to prevent transmission:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers after touching heavily-used public items, i.e., doorknobs, telephones, public transportation seats/poles, shopping carts, etc.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze and discard of the tissue immediately.
- Wash your hands after coughing and/or sneezing.