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Home » Articles » Swine Influenza (swine Flu)
Swine Influenza (swine Flu)
What is Swine Flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Is the swine flu virus contagious?
The swine flu virus does not normally pass between humans. Usually the infection is only found in people with direct exposure to swine. (EG: workers in the pig industry) It has now been determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhoea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How serious is swine flu in people?
As with seasonal influenza, the presentation of the disease could be light or severe.

How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can infection by swine flu virus be diagnosed?

To diagnose Swine influenza type A infection is necessary to collect a sample of respiratory secretions in the first 4 – 5 days of symptoms (this is when the person emit most virus). In children, this period could be extended to 10 days. These samples should be collected and analysed according to local public health arrangements.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
As for general indications for Seasonal influenza, you have to try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. There are also some particular indications in the area where there are influenza cases: - Do not frequent crowded places- Wash your hands frequently with water and soap.- Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth because the virus is spread by this route.- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If is necessary, use a mask (In accordance with recent studies, this can reduces the risk of transmission by up to 4 times)

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Viruses can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Viruses can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe

What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. Please inform also the health department of your company.If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. The medicines available are Amandadina, Rimantadina, Oseltamivir and Zanamivir. Most of the influenza viruses are susceptible to the 4 antiviral medications, but the swine influenza virus are resistant to the first 2. Only Oseltamivir and Zanamivir are recommended for the treatment and/or prevention of human infection with swine influenza virus.

Can I travel abroad?
If you have to travel in abroad, in particular to a country with diagnosed cases, you must contact your company health department for information regarding vaccination, prophylaxis and medications before the trip.

References:
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/
Author - R.Sathish Kumar
Lasted updated - May 21, 2009
 
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