Though swine flu is not that scary as Ebola or other deadly viruses, it nevertheless shook the world back in 2009. Fortunately, since then no other outbreak of the disease has happened. Still, as flu itself is quite a widespread virus among humans, it may be useful to learn some facts about its ‘cousin’ that became first known after being diagnosed among pigs.
Image Credit: 123rf.com
By definition, swine flu is a respiratory disease that affects pigs. As Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, it is a regular condition in swine herds caused by type A influenza viruses. Even though swine flu may happen to a significant part of livestock and proceed in various degrees of seriousness, there are not many deaths among infected pigs.
Most common signs of the disease include fever (occasionally), nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, body pains, cough and/or sore throat, watery or red eyes, runny or stuffy nose, headache and fatigue. The disease’s incubation period lasts from one to three days after a person’s exposure to the virus. Transmission of the disease happens through respiratory large-particle droplets that get passed from infected pigs to humans or from humans to humans in cases of close contact. In former cases, swine farmers and veterinarians have much higher risk of exposure to the virus. Eating infected pork, however, doesn’t result into developing swine flu, according to Mayo Clinic.
Also, in majority of cases normally healthy adults are able to transmit the virus to others for as long as 1 day before symptoms’ development and up to 5 to 7 days after. Children and people with weaker health are more susceptible to the disease and might be able to be transmitters for even longer periods of time.
How It Was First Diagnosed
Nowadays people normally don’t get infected with swine flu, but in 2009 its strain AH1N1 has spread over in the world, resulting into World Health Organization declaring a pandemic of the disease. It was officially over in August 2010, but the virus has been circulating in people in a mild form, exhibiting symptoms of a regular human flu and causing no grave consequences. Currently there are only two strains of swine flu that have ever emerged among humans, AH1N1 and AH3N2, and protection against the former has been included in the seasonal flu vaccine for 2015-2016 in the United States.
It is not necessary to go to a doctor if one is having some symptoms of flu, even if it is in fact a swine flu. However, it is worth consulting a specialist if you are expecting or have certain chronic illnesses that are likely to seriously increase risk of complications, such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, emphysema etc.
Also, there is a number of protective measures one can take to protect themselves from getting the virus. These measures include covering one’s nose and mouth with a hand or, more preferably, a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and when someone is doing this around them; keep one’s hands clean either with help or water and soap or, if these are unavailable, with alcohol-based cleaners; not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands; avoid close contact with infected people and not to roam around, including school, university or work when one is sick.
These simple things along with regular vaccination will minimize risk of catching both regular human flu strains and swine ones.
Swine flu (H1N1 flu) – Mayoclinic.org