Swine influenza is flu virus usually found in pigs. The virus occasionally changes (mutates) and becomes infectious in humans. When this happens, the disease becomes a concern to humans, who have little or no immunity against it. This means the virus has the potential to spread quickly around the world. It also may be more difficult to treat than the usual, seasonal human flu viruses.
In June 2009, the World Health Organizaiton declared a worldwide swine flu pandemic.
Swine flu; Influenza A
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
In the spring of 2009, cases of human infection with H1N1 flu were confirmed in Mexico, the United States, and many countries around the world.
The H1N1 flu virus is contagious and can spread from human to human. At this time, it is unknown how easily it can spread between people.
It is known that flu viruses can spread from pigs to people, and from people to pigs. However, you CANNOT get H1N1 flu virus from eating pork.
Human-to-human infection with the H1N1 flu virus likely occurs the same way as seasonal flu, when an infected person coughs or sneezes into air that others breathe in. People may also get infected by touching something with the virus on it, such as a door knob or counter, and then touching their mouth or nose.
A brief of H1Na – Swine Flu
Swine influenza (also called H1N1 flu, swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus. Swine influenza virus (SIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.
The 2009 swine flu outbreak is an epidemic of a new strain of influenza virus that was clinically identified in April 2009. It is a type of influenza A (H1N1) virus and is currently a phase 5 outbreak with significant risk, one level below an official pandemic. This virus is species specific and infects pigs; however they do cross barrier of species and transmit to human. Once this happens it easily passes on from one person to the other.
Signs & Symptoms
–chills and fatigue.
–In worst cases and complexities, it may further be added with sever illness and pneumonia or respiratory failure resulting to death.
Do’s & Don’ts
Maintain personal hygiene.
Practice safe food consumption habits.
Cover your sneeze and cough in disposable tissues.
Ensure your regular workplace is kept clean.
Immediately contact physician in case of illness and fatigue or weakness.
try to maintain a distance of about one meter from affected person if possible :
Clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand wash on a regular basis (especially if touching the mouth and nose, or surfaces that are potentially contaminated).
Improve airflow in your living space by opening windows.
Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food and keeping physically active.
No handshake, meaning that greet each other as well as visitors, without shaking hands.
Avoid close contact with wild birds / animals. Stay away from the Zoo.
Avoid close contact with the people having cough and fever.
Avoid touching your mouth and nose.
Avoid close contact with people who might be ill.
Avoid the time spent in crowded settings if possible.
Most people who get H1N1 flu will likely recover without needing medical care. Doctors, however, can prescribe antiviral drugs to treat people who become very sick with the flu or are at high risk for flu complications. The CDC currently identifies the following people as high risk:
- Children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than age 2
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- People with:
- Chronic lung (including asthma) or heart conditions (except hypertension)
- Kidney, liver, neurologic, and neuromuscular conditions
- Blood disorders (including sickle cell disease)
- Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- An immune system that does not work well, such as AIDS patients or cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
Other high risk people include:
- Pregnant women
- Anyone younger than 19 years of age receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
When to call Doctor or seek medical help
If you are ill and have any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency signs include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
In adults, emergency signs include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to protect myself from swine flu?
The main route of transmission of the swine flu virus seems to be similar to seasonal influenza i.e. the common ‘flu’, via droplets that are expelled by speaking, sneezing or coughing. You may prevent getting infected by avoiding close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms & follow dos & Don’t’s
Is it necessary that I wear a mask?
If you are not ill, you do not have to wear a mask.
If you are caring for an ill person, you may wear a mask when you are in close contact with him/her and dispose of it immediately after contact, and cleanse your hands thoroughly afterwards.
If you are ill and must travel or be around others, cover your mouth and nose.
Using a mask correctly in all situations is essential. Incorrect use actually increases the chance of spreading infection.
How do I know if I have swine flu?
You will not be able to tell the difference between seasonal flu and swine flu without medical help.
Typical symptoms to look out for are similar to seasonal viruses and include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and runny nose. Only a healthcare professional and the local health authority may confirm a case of swine flu.
What should I do if I think I have swine flu?
If you are feeling ill, have high fever, cough or sore throat:
Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds
Rest and take plenty of fluids.
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and, if using tissues, make sure you dispose of them carefully. Clean your hands immediately afterwards with soap and water or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand wash.
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth as much as possible with the crook of your elbow if you do not have a tissue handy.
Use a mask to help contain the spread of droplets when you are around others, but be sure to do so correctly.
Inform family and friends about your condition and try to avoid contact with other people.
If possible, contact a healthcare professional before travelling to a health facility to discuss whether a medical examination is necessary.
5. Should I take an antiviral medication now just in case I contract swine flu?
No. You should only take an antiviral, such as oseltamivir or zanamivir, if your healthcare provider advises you to do so. Individuals should not buy medication to prevent or fight this swine flu without a prescription, and they should exercise caution in buying antiviral medication online.
6. Should I stop breastfeeding if I am ill?
No; unless a healthcare professional advises it. Studies on other types of flu infections show that breastfeeding is most likely protective for babies; as it passes on helpful maternal antibodies and lowers the risk of respiratory disease. Breastfeeding provides the best overall nutrition for babies and increases their defence factors to fight disease.
7. At what point should I seek medical care?
You should seek medical care if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or if a fever continues for more than three days. For parents with a young child
who is ill, seek medical care if a child has fast or laboured breathing, continuing fever or convulsions (seizures). Supportive home care is adequate for recovery in most cases such as resting, drinking plenty of fluids and using a pain reliever for aches. A non-aspirin pain reliever should be used by children and young adults to prevent the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome. (Reye’s syndrome is a potentially fatal condition that causes numerous detrimental effects to many organs, especially the brain and liver. It is associated with aspirin consumption by children with viral conditions.)
8. Should I go to work if I have the flu but am feeling OK?
No. Whether you have swine flu or seasonal flu, you should stay home and away from work for the duration of your symptoms. This is a precaution to protect your work colleagues and others.
9. May I travel if I’m ill?
If you are feeling ill or have symptoms of flu, you should not travel. If you have any doubts about your health, you should consult with a healthcare professional.
10. How do symptoms of swine flu differ from other types of flu?
None, really, although this flu might include gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea and vomiting), as well as the usual respiratory symptoms. The basic symptoms for swine flu are similar to the seasonal flu we are vaccinated for each year, which may include, fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache and body aches, fatigue.
11. Is there medication for this?
Yes, Tamiflu or Relenza have shown to be effective against these recently reported strains of swine flu. Altogether, there are four anti-viral drugs that we commonly use to treat various strains of flu.
12. Is there a vaccine?
Not yet, but the CDC has this current strain of virus and will consider whether to add it to next year’s flu vaccine as time goes on.
13. Can I catch it from pigs?
No. This strain is one that is communicable through human-to-human contact. It is a mutated form of a swine virus.
14. Can I catch it from eating pork?
Absolutely not! Swine flu is not transmitted by food. It is not a so-called foodborne illness. Bacon, ham and other pork products are safe to eat, assuming they are prepared properly. An internal temperature of 160 degrees for cooked meat will kill any bacteria or virus.
Swine flu is transmitted by airborne droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough; or from germs on hands, or germ-laden surfaces. Eating pork will not give you swine flu any more than eating chicken will give you bird flu.
15. How does it cross from a pig to a human?
The swine virus mutates so that it can infect humans and be spread by humans.
16. How is it different from avian (bird) flu?
Avian flu so far has had difficulty infecting humans unless they are exposed intensely to birds, because the virus has not mutated in a way that makes it transmissible by humans to other humans. This virus has origins genetically from both pigs and birds, and the big difference from the avian flu is that this swine virus can be transmitted readily from human to human.
17. What if I’m on a plane? Should I wear a mask?
Not necessary. The air on a plane is filtered. Transmission might occur if someone sitting close to you coughs or sneezes on you. The newer designs of aircraft airflow keep the air in a top-down flow, not forced air from front to back. However, if you do have a respiratory illness, it might be best not to travel.
18. Other than hand washing and covering my mouth if I sneeze or cough, what can I do to take care of myself and others?
If you are ill, stay home. Control your sneezes and coughs. If you cough into your hand, remember the virus could be live on your hand at least for a few minutes, so wash your hands before touching anyone else. If you get symptoms suggesting the flu, call your doctor, who can call in a prescription for medication to treat the flu. Resist going to the doctor’s office or a hospital ER for influenza symptoms unless you are seriously ill. You do not want to spread the disease to others.