Swine flu is a contagious disease which is also known as the H1N1 virus. This virus made headlines 6 years ago, when it was declared a pandemic. So far, it has been seen in 74 countries around the world.
Swine flu is very contagious, and it spreads quickly among the people. A single sneeze can cause thousands of germs to spread through the air. H1N1 can linger on tables and surface areas, such as cloth, waiting to be picked up.
This virus is unusual because it doesn’t affect the same age group as the typical flu. Swine flu focuses on young adults. This is very unusual because flu viruses normally attack people who are very young or elderly. Due to previous flu exposures, some form of immunity to this virus may exist in the elderly. Other risk factors for this virus include past history of infections, compromised immune system, and pregnancy.
H1N1 is caused by a train of influenza virus which normally only infects pigs. The main transmission is not from pigs to people, but from person to person. As we already said, this virus is very contagious. Swine flu is spread through mucus particles and saliva. People may spread them by coughing, touching a germ-covered surface and then touching their nose or eyes, or sneezing.
Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to those of other flu strains and they include vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, chills, headache, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. The symptoms of this virus develop about 1 to 3 days after a person is exposed to the virus and continue for about one week. You don’t have to visit your doctor if you are generally healthy and develop flu symptoms, such as body aches, cough and fever. However, visit your doctor if you have flu symptoms and you have a chronic disease, such as a heart condition or emphysema, or you are pregnant.
Most cases of flu require only symptom relief, including swine flu. Your doctor may prescribe additional medication in order to help relieve the symptoms, if you have a chronic respiratory disease. The antiviral drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir are sometimes prescribed in order to reduce the severity of symptoms. However, flu viruses can develop resistance to these medications.
People at high-risk are those who are immunosuppressed due to HIV or certain medications, are pregnant or within two weeks of delivery, are 65 years and older, are younger than 5 years of age, especially children younger than 2 years, are hospitalized, or have certain chronic medical conditions, such as kidney, liver or blood disease, obesity, neuromuscular disease, diabetes, heart disease, emphysema, and asthma.
The following measures are recommended to prevent swine flu and limit its spread:
Flu vaccination – It is recommended for all people who are older than 6 months.
Reduce exposure in your house – If a member of your family has H1N1 virus, designate just one member of your family to be responsible for the ill person’s personal care.
Avoid contact – If possible, stay away from crowds if you are at high risk of complications from the flu.
Contain your sneezes and coughs – Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. In order to avoid contaminating your hands, use a tissue.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly – Use water and soap. However, if they are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead.
Stay home if you are sick – If you do have this virus, stay home because you can give it to others.