Technically, the term “swine flu” refers to pigs influenza. Pigs sometimes transmit influenza viruses to humans, mainly to hog farmers and veterinarians. Somebody diagnosed with swine flu passes the infection on to others less frequently. Here we’ll discuss about the Swine Flu, its symptoms and when to see a doctor.
Scientists identified one specific strain of flu virus known as H1N1 in the spring of 2009. In fact, this virus is a mixture of viruses of pigs, birds and human viruses. During the flu season 2009-10, H1N1 triggered the human respiratory infection widely known as swine flu. Since so many people around the world became ill that year, the WHO has declared H1N1- induced flu a global pandemic.
The pandemic was declared by the WHO in August 2010. Scientists have since changed the way they call viruses. Now, the H1N1 virus is called H1N1v. The v stands for variant and which shows that the virus usually circulates in animals but has been found in humans. Another strain, H3N2v, has been circulating in humans since 2011 which causes the flu as well. Both strains are used in the 2018-19 flu vaccine.
Signs and symptoms of swine flu
Signs and symptoms of swine flu are identical to those of illnesses induced by other types of flu which can include:
- Fever (but not always)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery, red eyes
- Body aches
- Nausea and vomiting
When to see a doctor
If you are usually healthy and show signs and symptoms of flu such as fever, cough and body ache you do not need to see a doctor. However, if you have flu symptoms and are pregnant or you have a chronic illness, such as asthma, emphysema, diabetes or a heart condition call your doctor because you have a higher chance of flu complications.
Causesof swine flu
Influenza viruses infect the cells that line your nose, throat and lungs. The virus enters your body when you inhale contaminated droplets or transfer the live virus from a contaminated surface to your eyes, nose or mouth. You can’t catch swine flu from eating pork.
Tips for treating swine flu symptoms and preventing further infection include:
- Using over-the-counter medications
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water
- Having plenty of sleep
- Exercising frequently
- Reducing stress
- Consuming liquids
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding being near to anyone with flu symptoms
- Not touching surfaces that might have the virus
Anyone suffering from flu should stay at home from work or school while symptoms last.
If you’ve lived in or traveled to a region where swine flu affects a lot of people, you might have been exposed to the virus. Swine farmers and veterinarians are at the severe risk of being exposed to actual swine flu as they deal with and are close to pigs.
Complications of influenza include:
- Worsening of medical conditions, such as heart disease and asthma
- Neurological signs and symptoms, from confusion to seizures
- Respiratory failure
The best way to prevent swine flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Many simple ways to prevent swine flu include:
- Regularly washing hands with soap or hand sanitizer
- Not touching your nose, mouth, or eyes (The virus can live on surfaces like telephones and tabletops.)
- Staying home from work or school if you’re sick
- Avoiding large gatherings when swine flu is in season
Following any guidelines on public health regarding school closures or avoiding crowds during the flu season is critical. Such guidelines may come from the CDC, WHO, National Institutes of Health, or from other government institutions of public health.
Flu season shifts from year to year, but in the United States, it generally starts in October and runs until as late as May. It usually peaks in January, although it’s possible to get the flu any time of year.