H1N1 Flu Virus (Swine Flu)
Swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, is a relatively new strain of an influenza virus that causes symptoms similar to the regular flu. It originated in pigs but is spread primarily from person to person.
Swine flu made headlines in 2009 when it was first discovered in humans and became a pandemic. Pandemics are contagious diseases affecting people throughout the world or on multiple continents at the same time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the H1N1 pandemic over in August 2010. Since then, the H1N1 virus has been known as a regular human flu virus. It continues to spread during flu season like other strains of the flu. The flu shot developed each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) usually includes a vaccination against a type of H1N1 virus.
Difference between swine flu and seasonal flu
Initially, swine flu outbreak was treated separately from the normal seasonal flu. Now for many people, swine flu is the strain of flu they catch during the flu season.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of other strains of seasonal flu:
- Temperature over 38C/100.4F
- Unusual tiredness
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or cough
- Loss of appetite
- Aching muscles
The incubation period for swine flu is about one to four days, with the average being two days; in some people, the incubation period may be as long as about seven days in adults and children.
Some people are more at risk of catching swine flu than others; including:
- people aged over 65
- young children (under 5)
- people with chronic diseases
- pregnant women
- teenagers receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- anyone with a compromised immune system Diagnosis
- Routine blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Nose or throat swab
- Kit to diagnose flu
There are two main treatments:
- Adamantanes (amantadine and remantadine).
- Inhibitors of the influenza neuraminidase protein (oseltamivir and zanamivir).
Prevention of swine flu
As there is no known single cure, prevention of swine flu is an effective method of avoiding outbreaks. There are a number of steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of swine flu:
- Washing hands regularly with soap.
- Getting plenty of sleep.
- Doing plenty of exercise.
- Managing stress.
- Drinking liquids.
- Eating a balanced diet.
- Refraining from touching surfaces that may have the virus.
- Do not get close to people who are sick.
- Stay away from crowds if there is a swine flu outbreak in your area.