Swine Flu is a respiratory disease caused by viruses. These viruses generally infect the respiratory tracts of pigs and can be transmitted to humans. The basic symptoms can include nasal secretions, a barking cough, decreased appetite and listless behavior.
But, why is it called swine flu? The answer is pretty simple. Swine flu is to pigs as what influenza is to us, humans. But sometimes, swine flu can transfer from pigs to humans. There have been several isolated cases of swine flu in humans, but the recent outbreak in 2009 can be noted to be different. It has been noted that the virus responsible for the 2009 outbreak was a novel species and it was found to be mainly affecting humans. In fact, it has RNA strands from human flu virus, avian flu virus and swine flu virus.
Causes for Swine Flu
There are some theories as to how this new type of Swine flu is infecting people. One viable theory is that pigs’ respiratory system can host the three types of influenza viruses including pig’s swine flu virus, bird flu virus and human flu virus. When these three viruses interact in a cell, they can combine to form a new sub-species. Thus, pigs could be acting as ‘mixing pot’ for these viruses. From pigs, it can be transmitted to humans. Transmissions to humans mainly occurs where people come into contact with or share space with pigs. In this case, farmers, pork industry workers, etc are more susceptible.
Symptoms of Swine Flu
Swine flu symptoms are more or less similar to most influenza infections. Some of which can include
• 100 F or higher fevers
• A barking like cough
• Nasal secretions
• Fatigue and unenergetic or listless behavior
• And headache
• While other symptoms can also include sore throat, rashes, body aches, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
• Some patients can experience severe respiratory symptoms can might need the support of ventilator for breathing.
• Others can develop pneumonia (secondary bacterial infection) if the primary infection persists.
When this viral infection was first discovered in Mexico, it was noted that people who were mostly infected were children and young adults. These observations also suggest that strong immune system that an adult person develops might be a key in the spread of this disease. Or in other words, children and teenagers are at risk of infecting this virus.
Diagnosis of Swine Flu
Swine flu is diagnosed by looking at the patient’s history and also by collecting nasopharyngeal swab sample. There are two types of viral infections, Type A and Type B. If there is no infection, the test result will be negative. If it is positive then, another test whether or not it is Type A or Type B must be detected. Result of Type B means that it is most likely not swine flu. But, result of Type A can mean that it is swine flu.
Treatment for Swine flu
There are vaccinations available for swine flu and are regarded as the best treatment for swine flu. The vaccine for swine flu can be taken by people aging between 6 months to elderly.
One needs to be very quick in identifying the symptoms of swine flu and get vaccinated. Early identification and detection can be very helpful in controlling the virus.
Apart from treatment, by following certain actions, swine flu could be prevented further. They can include:
- Washing hands with soap and water, often can be very helpful. This is especially good after sneezing or coughing.
- Teach your kids to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and remember to throw the tissue in a dustbin.
- After sneezing or coughing, do not touch your nose or mouth or eyes. Infections can spread from these areas as well.
- Keep your kids away or maintain distance from infected people. It has also been observed that people infected with influenza can often spread infections just by sneezing or coughing.
- If your kids are infected, make them stay at home and let them take some rest. Don’t let them meet other people because infections can spread from them to others.
With these tips and actions, you can avoid not just swine flu, but many other viral or bacterial infections as well.