Flu, swine

Other names: H1N1 flu, Influenza, H1N1, Influenza, swine flu

DEFINITION

Technically, the term "swine Flu" refers to Influenza in pigs. Occasionally, pigs transmit Influenza viruses to people, mainly to hog farmers and veterinarians. Less often, someone infected passes the infection to others. The human respiratory infection caused by a particular Influenza virus H1N1 strain — popularly known as swine Flu — was first recognized in spring 2009. A few months after the first swine Flu cases were reported, rates of confirmed H1N1-related illness were increasing in much of the world. As a result, the World Health Organization declared the infection a global pandemic. The pandemic was declared over in August 2010. Currently, H1N1 is still circulating in humans as a seasonal Flu virus and is included in the seasonal Flu vaccine.

SYMPTOMS

Swine Flu signs and symptoms in humans are similar to those of other Flu strains:

Swine Flu symptoms develop about one to three days after you're exposed to the virus and continue for about seven days.

# WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

It's not necessary to see a doctor if you're generally healthy and develop Flu signs and symptoms, such as Fever, cough and body aches. Call your doctor, however, if you have Flu symptoms and you're pregnant or you have a chronic disease, such as Emphysema or a heart condition.

CAUSES

Influenza viruses infect the cells lining your nose, throat and lungs. The virus enters your body when you inhale contaminated droplets or transfer live virus from a contaminated surface to your eyes, nose or mouth. You can't catch swine Flu from eating pork.

RISK FACTORS

If you've traveled to an area where many people are affected by Swine flu (H1N1 flu), you may have been exposed to the virus, particularly if you spent time in large crowds. Swine farmers and veterinarians have the highest risk of true swine Flu because of their exposure to pigs.

COMPLICATIONS

Influenza complications include:

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Most cases of Flu, including H1N1 Flu, require only symptom relief. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, your doctor may prescribe additional medication to help relieve your symptoms. The antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are sometimes prescribed to reduce the severity of symptoms but can develop resistance. Antivirals are reserved for high-risk groups.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Flu vaccination for all people older than 6 months of age. Other preventive measures include staying home if sick, washing hands frequently, containing coughs and sneezes, avoiding contact with sick individuals or crowded places if possible.


QUESTIONS

  1. What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a respiratory infection caused by an Influenza virus H1N1 strain.

  1. What are the symptoms of swine flu?

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting.

  1. Can you catch swine flu from eating pork?

No, you cannot catch swine flu from eating pork.

  1. Who is at high risk for complications from swine flu?

High-risk groups include pregnant women, young children under 5 years old, adults over 65 years old, individuals with chronic medical conditions like asthma or diabetes.

  1. What are some complications of swine flu?

Complications can include pneumonia, worsening chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, neurological symptoms like confusion or seizures.

  1. How is swine flu treated?

Treatment usually involves symptom relief; antiviral drugs may be prescribed for high-risk individuals.

  1. How can swine flu be prevented?

Prevention includes getting vaccinated against seasonal flu strains including H1N1 virus and practicing good hygiene habits like handwashing.

  1. When was the global pandemic of swine flu declared over?

The global pandemic was declared over in August 2010.

  1. What should you do if you develop swine flu symptoms?

If generally healthy: rest at home; if pregnant or with chronic conditions: consult a doctor.

  1. Can children receive the nasal spray flu vaccine for protection against H1N1 virus?

Yes, healthy children between 2 through 49 years old who are not pregnant can receive the nasal spray vaccine for protection against H1N1 virus.