Swine Flu (H1N1): Overview and More

Swine flu is the name of the type A influenza virus that infects pigs (pigs). Although swine flu does not typically affect humans, there was a global outbreak ( pandemic ) between 2009 and 2010, the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. It was caused by a new influenza virus known as H1N1, an influenza virus that is a combination of genes from pigs, poultry (birds), and humans that were mixed in pigs and transmitted to humans. Currently, H1N1 is considered the normal type. seasonal flu and is included in the flu vaccine .

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History

H1N1 was first detected in April 2009 in a 10-year-old girl in California. In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic a global pandemic and it finally ended in August 2010.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that swine flu has infected nearly 61 million people in the United States and caused 12,469 deaths. Globally, the swine flu pandemic has killed up to 575,400 people .

The 1918 influenza pandemic was also caused by the H1N1 virus. Known as the Spanish flu , its genes indicate that it may have evolved from a swine flu virus or an avian flu virus. The pandemic has claimed the lives of some 50 million people worldwide and is notable for the high death rate among healthy adults .

Swine flu symptoms

H1N1 causes respiratory diseases and is very contagious. The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to seasonal flu and can include:

  • Hot
  • Body pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Irritated eyes
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Diarrhea

Causes

Influenza A viruses can mix with other strains, creating a new strain, which caused the pandemic from 2009 to 2010 .

Pigs are capable of contracting all three types of influenza (human, swine, and avian), making them ideal containers in which the virus can mix and change. The H1N1 virus is made up of porcine, human and avian genes that were altered in pigs, probably several years before the pandemic (hence the name "swine flu").

The flu circulates among pigs throughout the year, but is most common in late fall and winter, similar to the human flu season. Pigs can sometimes pass the flu to working people. This was the case during the 2009-2010 pandemic, only in this case the new H1N1 strain spread rapidly because people had no immunity.

When people become infected with the H1N1 virus, it happens in the same way that they can contract any type of influenza: through contact with another sick person, either by droplets in the air that contain a live virus or by touching a surface that has been infected. infected and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

You can't get the flu from pork, although you should always cook and handle it with care.

Diagnostics

If you show signs of the flu and are otherwise in good health, you probably don't need to see a doctor. However, if you are pregnant, your immune system is weakened, or you have a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, emphysema, or heart disease, you should see your doctor immediately.

Your healthcare professional will be able to diagnose you with the flu by taking a swab from your nose and / or throat within the first four to five days after you get sick. There are rapid flu tests that can indicate whether or not you have the flu, as well as type (A or B), although they are not as accurate as other tests.

H1N1 Swine Flu Virus Discussion Guide for Healthcare Providers

Get our printed guide to your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

There are also rapid molecular analyzes that are more accurate and can give fast results as well. 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 flu strain you have, such as H1N1, your healthcare provider may send your sample to a specialized hospital or state laboratory for testing.

Watch out

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 have been exposed. They are generally intended for people who are at higher risk for complications , thus reducing the likelihood of developing resistance to viruses.

Otherwise, treatment for most people consists primarily of measures to ensure comfort and treatment of symptoms as they appear. For example, if you have asthma or emphysema, your healthcare provider may add medicine to help ease your respiratory symptoms.

Annual flu shots now provide immunity to H1N1, which means swine flu is preventable.

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As with any type of flu, you must respect the H1N1 virus, but there is no reason to be afraid of it. While complications can arise from contracting any type of flu, getting an annual flu vaccine (which protects against H1N1), washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, and avoiding infected people can help reduce your risk of contracting any strain of the virus. . flu.

Frequently asked questions

  • The CDC estimates that between April 2009 and March 2010, swine flu caused 12,469 deaths in all age groups in the United States.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declared swine flu a global pandemic in June 2009 and determined that it ended in August 2010. Technically, H1N1 swine flu still exists in the modern population, but it is no longer a major problem.

  • Annual flu vaccination protects against swine flu. Even after getting vaccinated, it is recommended that you wash your hands regularly and stay away from people with the flu.

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