Swine flu (swine influenza) is a disease of pigs. Swine influenza, also called pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by one of many Influenza A viruses. Approximately 1% to 4% of pigs that get swine flu die from it. It is spread among pigs by direct and indirect contact, aerosols, and from pigs that are infected but do not have symptoms. In many parts of the world pigs are vaccinated against swine flu.
During the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, allowing accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, only 50 such transmissions have been confirmed. These strains of swine flu rarely pass from human to human. Symptoms of zoonotic swine flu in humans are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.
Most commonly, swine flu is of the H1N1 influenza subtype. However, they can sometimes come from the other types, such as H1N2, H3N1, and H3N2.
The current outbreak of swine flu that has infected humans is of the H1N1 type - this type is not as dangerous as some others
How Does A Human Catch Swine Influenza?
- From contact with infected pigs (most common way)
- From contact with infected humans (much less common way)
Can I Eat Pork Meat And Pork Products?
If the pork meat and pork food products have been handled properly transmission of swine influenza to humans is not possible. Cooking pork meats to a temperature of 70C (160F) kills the virus. So the answer is YES, pork meat and pork food products are safe to eat.
Where Have Pigs Been Infected?
As swine influenza infection among pigs is not an internationally notifiable disease. Swine influenza infection among pigs is known to be endemic in the USA. Outbreaks have also occurred in other parts of North America, South American, Europe, Africa, China, Japan, and other parts of Asia.
Is There A Pandemic Risk?
People who are not in close contact with pigs generally have no immunity to the swine influenza viruses - they are less likely to be able to prevent a virus infection. If the virus infects enough people in a given area, the risk of an influenza pandemic is significantly greater. Experts say it is very hard to predict what impact a flu pandemic caused by a swine influenza virus would have on the global human population. This would depend on how virulent the virus is, what existing immunity among humans there already is, plus several other factors.
Do We Have A Specific Swine Flu Vaccine?
No - not for humans.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Swine Influenza In Humans?
- Body aches
- Diarrhea (less common)
- Sore throat
- Temperature (fever)
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Vomiting (less common)
What Medications Are There?
There are some drugs around that can effectively treat swine flu infection in humans - and many types of flu infections in humans. There are two main types:
- adamantanes (amantadine and remantadine)
- inhibitors of influenza neuraminidase (oseltamivir and zanamivir)
Most previous swine influenza human cases recovered completely without the need for medical attention.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself?
- Wash your hands regularly with soap
- Try to stay healthy
- Get plenty of sleep
- Do plenty of exercise
- Try to manage your stress
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Eat a well balanced diet
- Refrain from touching surfaces which may have the virus
- Do not get close to people who are sick
- Stay away from crowded areas if there is a swine flu outbreak in your area
If I Am Infected, How Can I Stop Others From Becoming Infected?
- Limit your contact with other people
- Do not go to work or school
- When you cough or sneeze cover your mouth with a tissue. If you do not have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose.
- Put your used tissues in a waste basket
- Wash your hands and face regularly
- Keep all surfaces you have touched clean
- Follow your doctor's instructions