Swine influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs. It is caused by type A influenza virus (H1N1). Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However human swine flu infections occurred and caused a pandemic in 2009 with several deaths reported worldwide.
Human infections with H1N1 influenza occur in people with direct exposure to pigs (such as workers in swine industry), but cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu are also noted. Human-to-human transmission happens through air droplets from cough or sneeze of people infected with influenza virus.
Know your risk for contracting H1N1 influenza virus and take necessary precautionary steps.
Swine Flu Facts
2009 H1N1 was first detected in the United States in April 2009
WHO had raised the influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5 on April 29th 2009; Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region
Swine flu is a combination of genes from swines, birds and human flu virus, according to CDC.
H1N1 influenza A virus is contagious and can spread from human to human.
Data reveals that the type A influenza viruses originated in pigs in Asia, but now it has become a human disease. It is spreading very quickly throughout Britain.
Swine flu viruses circulating in U.S. pigs in the recent years are
I) Swine triple reassortant (tr) H1N1
People with H1N1 infections are considered potentially contagious one day before the onset of symptoms and can go up to 7 days following the illness. Children might be contagious for a longer duration.
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to swine flu since their immune systems are less effective.
Swine flu symptoms in humans are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include cough, sore throat, fever, headaches, body aches, chills and feeling tired.
H1N1 flu viruses are not transmitted by food; one cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. However, eating properly handled pork and pork products is safe; cooking pork at 160 degrees F kills the viruses and food borne pathogens.
Influenza complications include worsening of asthma, pneumonia, confusion, seizures and respiratory failure
Antiviral drugs like oseltamivir (tamiflu) and zanamivir (relenza) are used for the treatment and prevention of swine flu. These two drugs are approved by the FDA for the treatment of flu in both children and adults. Swine flu virus is found to be resistant to amantadine (symmetrel) and rimantadine (flumadine).
Swine flu vaccines:
Two different brands of vaccines have been developed to protect against the virus that causes swine flu. These include
1.Pandemrix vaccine is given as single dose
2.Celvapen vaccine given as two doses, 3 weeks apart.