What Is Swine Flu
What is swine flu? The influenza virus made public health waves in the late 1970s as officials sought to protect the public from a potential flu epidemic. When strains of the swine flu, or H1N1 virus, reappeared in the United States in 2009, fear and interest in the illness returned. What exactly is the swine flu H1N1 virus and what should you know about the illness?
What is the medical definition of swine flu? As the name indicates, swine influenza, or H1N1, is a viral infection affecting pigs or swine. The illness affects swine year around, becoming worse in colder months. While animals become quite ill with the virus, it is generally not fatal. Because swine flu is a virus, it has the ability to mutate with other influenza viruses or even other strains of swine flu to form new viral strains. Human H1N1 in recent years is actually a combination of swine flu, human seasonal flu and avian flu.
If swine flu is found in pigs, how does it infect humans? While the swine flu strains causing illness in pigs do not directly infect humans, variations of those strains may infect humans. The few swine flu cases reported annually generally occur in humans living or working in close contact with infected pigs or between humans in personal contact with a person infected with a strain of the human H1N1 virus.
What are the signs of swine flu in humans? Swine flu is a respiratory virus, as are many other influenza strains. Patients report respiratory symptoms such as a cough and stuffy nose, a fever, vomiting, and a general feeling of illness similar to the seasonal flu virus.
Is swine flu the next pandemic flu? During the late 1970s soldiers stationed in US military base Fort Dix developed a highly contagious viral infection. Analysis at the time drew similarities between the swine flu strain in Fort Dix to the flu epidemic of 1918 that killed so many. It may seem that health officials have taken a particular interest in protection against human H1N1, but, in reality, other flu strains, such as the avian flu, in the last century have also prompted heightened protection efforts.