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What is Swine Flu and How to Prevent It?

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The swine flu is influenza which is in news these days and becomes headlines when a VIP or popular personality gets caught by it. In this article, we will tell you about this flu and how people get infected by it and also about its symptoms?

Swine flu is the name for the influenza type A virus that affects pigs (swine). Although swine flu doesn't typically affect humans, there was a global outbreak (pandemic) in 2009–2010, the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. It was caused by a then-new flu virus known as H1N1, a type A influenza virus that's a combination of swine, avian (bird), and human genes that mixed together in pigs and spread to humans. H1N1 is now considered a normal type of seasonal flu and is included in the flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 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 pandemic swine flu.  

H1N1 causes a respiratory illness and is very contagious. Symptoms  are similar to those of the seasonal flue  and may include: 

  • Fever 

  • Body aches 

  • Loss of appetite 

  • A cough 

  • A sore throat 

  • A headache 

  • Fatigue 

  • A runny nose 

  • Irritated eyes 

  • Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea 

H1N1 flu is also known as swine flu. It's called swine flu because, in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs. That changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn't been near pigs. 

In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organization called it a pandemic. Since then, people have continued to get sick from swine flu, but not as many. People who have swing flu can spread it one day before they have any symptoms and as many as seven days after they get sick. Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days. 

If you have swine flu, you may be more likely to feel sick in your stomach and throw up than with regular flu, but a lab test is the only way to know. Even a rapid flu test you can get in your doctor's office won't tell you for sure. So the only people who really need to be tested for swine flu are those in the hospital or those at high risk for life-threatening problems from swine flu, such as: 

  • Children under 5 years old

  • People 65 or older

  • Children and teens (under age 18) who are getting long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for Reye's syndrome after being infected with swine flu. Reye's syndrome is a life-threatening illness linked to aspirin use in children.

  • Pregnant women

  • Adults and children with chronic lung, heart, liver, blood, nervous system, neuromuscular, or metabolic problems

  • Adults and children who have weakened immune systems (including those who take medications to suppress their immune systems or who have HIV)

  • People in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Some of the same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu also work against H1N1 swine flu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza) seem to work best, although some kinds of swine flu don't respond to oseltamivir. 

These drugs can help you get well faster. They can also make you feel better. They work best when you take them within 48 hours of the first flu symptoms, but they can help even if you get them later on. 

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