Swine flu is the name of the type A influenza virus that affects pigs. Although swine flu does not typically affect humans, there was a global outbreak (pandemic), the first flu pandemic in over 40 years.
It was caused by a then new flu virus known as H1N1, a flu virus that is a combination of pig, avian, and human genes that mix in pigs and spread to humans.
H1N1 is now considered a normal type of seasonal flu and is included in the flu vaccine.
History of H1N1 swine flu
H1N1 was first detected in California. It was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that swine flu infected nearly 61 million people in the United States and caused 12,469 deaths. Worldwide, up to 575,400 people died from the swine flu pandemic.
The flu pandemic was also caused by an H1N1 virus. Known as the Spanish flu, its genes show that it may have developed from a swine flu virus or an avian (bird) flu virus.
The pandemic killed about 50 million people worldwide and was notable in that it had a high death rate among healthy adults.
Swine flu symptoms
The H1N1 flu causes respiratory illnesses and is highly contagious. The symptoms of the H1N1 virus are similar to those of seasonal flu and can include:
· Body aches;
· Loss of appetite;
· Sore throat;
· Irritated eyes;
· Vomiting, nausea;
What are your causes
Influenza A viruses have the ability to mix with other strains, creating a new strain, which is what caused the pandemic.
Pigs can catch all three types of influenza (human, swine, and avian), making them perfect containers in which the virus can mix and change. The H1N1 virus is made from pig, human and avian genes that metamorphosed in pigs, probably several years before the pandemic (hence the name "swine flu").
Influenza circulates among pigs throughout the year, but is most common in late fall and winter, similar to the human flu season. Pigs can sometimes transmit the flu to working humans.
This is what happened during the pandemic, only in this case, the new H1N1 strain spread rapidly because humans had no immunity against it.
When people contract the H1N1 virus, it is in the same way that they can contract any type of flu: by contact with another sick person, either by droplets in the air that contain the live virus or by touching a surface that has been contaminated and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
You cannot get the flu from eating pork, although you should always make sure it is well cooked and handled with care.
How it is Diagnosed
If you develop signs of the flu and are in good health, you probably don't need to see a doctor. However, if you are pregnant, your immune system is compromised, or you have a chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, emphysema, or a heart condition, you should see your doctor immediately.
Your doctor can diagnose you with the flu by inserting a swab into your nose and / or throat within the first four to five days of illness. There are rapid influenza diagnostic tests that can determine whether or not you have the flu, as well as what type (A or B), although they are not as accurate as other tests.
There are also rapid molecular assays, which are more accurate and can also give a quick result. Since there is more than one strain of the influenza A virus, a positive influenza A test does not necessarily mean that you have the H1N1 virus.
To definitively diagnose and classify the influenza strain you have, such as H1N1, your doctor may send your sample to a specialized hospital or state laboratory for analysis.
Treatment for swine flu
The H1N1 flu is a virus like any other strain of flu. The antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza do not cure the disease, but they can shorten the duration, make the symptoms less severe, or help you avoid it altogether if you are exposed.
They are generally reserved for people at higher risk of complications, thus reducing the likelihood that the virus will develop resistance in them.
On the other hand, treatment for most people consists primarily of comfort measures and treating symptoms as they develop. If you have asthma or emphysema, for example, your doctor might add a medication to help ease your respiratory symptoms.
Annual flu shots provide immunity against the H1N1 flu, which means that swine flu has become preventable.
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