Swine flu Q&A

Swine flu is a popular disease and if you don’t treat it in time it is fatal as well. So, there are a lot of confusions, misconceptions and questions about the H1N1 virus and the flu. This article will help you guide through the frequently asked questions and brief explanations that follow should give you a good knowledge about the flu.

What is H1N1?

H1N1 flu or swine flu is an infection which is caused by a H1N1 virus. It is named as swine flu as they were originated from pigs and they are pigs’ disease. People were not known to have been affected by swine flu until 2009 when a strain of the flu infected a lot of people around the globe and caused a pandemic.

You must know by now that the virus is contagious and can spread very fast among people. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of normal human flu which includes sore throat, fever, cough, headache, fatigue, and chills.

What is Influenza A?

There are three types of influenza viruses. Most known one are A and B types. Influenza A is just a type of virus and under that lies the H1N1 virus. The human flu that occurred in 2009 was caused due to the influenza type A virus.

Influenza A is an orthomyxovirus which consists of the glycoproteins neuraminidase and haemagglutinin. The H and N in the virus names come from these antigens and their names depend on the metabolic synergy. Haemagglutinin causes RBCs (red blood cells) to clump together and it also helps in binding the virus to the infected cell. Neuraminidase helps in moving the virus particles through infected cells and help infect the host cell.

Only some strains of the H1N1 virus can become endemic in humans and can cause influenza-like illness and all seasonal influenza. H1N1 strains weren’t found to have affected humans till 2004-2005 when human flu infections was noticed. Only small percent of H1N1 strains cause human infections and other cause swine flu in pigs and bird flu as well.

WHO (The World Health Organization) declared the new strain of H1N1 (swine-originated) as a pandemic on June 2009. This was known as swine flu in the media popularly. It had killed about 17 thousand people by 2010 which was causing quite a panic about the condition but WHO declared the pandemic over on August 10, 2010 with its possibility to appear on seasonal basis.

What is influenza B?

Influenzavirus B lies under the virus family Orthomyxoviridae as a genus and influenza B virus lies under this.

They have been known to affect only humans and seal and hasn’t been observed in other species. This virus however can’t really be as effective as an A virus, as these are slower in evolving than B type. On the contrary, Influenza B has been known to significantly affect the mortality and mobility rate of adolescents or schoolchildren.

Is swine flu the same as influenza A?

Flu or influenza viruses are divided into three categories, namely, influenza A, B or C. Influenza A is the well-known and most common type of all. H1N1 flu is just a variety of influenza A.

So, basically what needs to be understood is that the influenza A and swine flu are not completely different nor are they the same thing but swine flu lies under the influenza A which consists of variety of other viruses which affect different types of animals.

How long do symptoms of swine flu last?

We know that the symptoms of swine flu are similar to that of the regular flu such as fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, and cough. But how long does the symptoms last? If you have been following the healthy schedule, these symptoms can last about eight days. But in other cases of going untreated, the condition can get worse and complications may arise which will make the symptoms to last longer and other symptoms to appear as well.

How long are you contagious with the H1N1 flu?

It is very important if you are a swine flu patient or anyone in your home has been diagnosed with H1N1 virus to know about how you need to be out of close-contact to other people and for how long. The first 4-5 days of getting the virus is known to be the 4-5 days. Children can be contagious for a longer period than normal adults which is why it is wise to keep your infected child at home. The initial incubation period is known to be 24 to 48 hours.

How do you catch the swine flu?

Here are some general ways how you might end up with swine flu. Swine flu is transferred from one person to other in the same way any other influenza or flu viruses would spread like by:

  • Inhaling or ingesting droplets which consists of virus from a person’s sneeze or cough.
  • Shaking your hands with infected people and later taking those hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Touching areas or surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person with germs and viruses on it.

NOTE: Eating pork products do not transmit H1N1 though it is swine-originated.

How is the swine flu transmitted from pigs to humans?

Swine can transmit to avian as well as human flu through the strains of influenza, and there is a possibility for other organisms to get these as well if a new influenza strain is created by antigenic shifts.

Only explainable and legitimate explanation to the transmission of swine to human is that the transmission occurred in a pig farm. Live pigs may have been infected and when the farmers of the farm come near them or make any close contact with the pigs, they might have gotten the virus. Although the swine influenza doesn’t always affect humans some strains may always be dangerous. So, it is always wise for the farmers or the veterinarians to use mask around such animals. And yes there is a way to prevent the pig-human influenza transmission which is injecting the swine with vaccine so that there is limited infection in the affected animal. Using gloves while coming in contact with the pigs with your hands is very necessary. Because having a swine to hand and hand to nose transmission is quite easy than it seems.

How did swine flu come about?

You might have a question how the swine flu was originated. Here is the answer. Swine influenza was introduced when there was a pandemic in 1918 and the humans were affected together with the pigs. However, not until 10 years later, was it identified as an influenza virus which affected pigs. This is how the swine flu came around and has been since then but it might have changed or altered strains which might produce slightly different symptoms and the victims of the virus might be different. H1N2 and such other viruses were later introduced.

What causes swine flu in pigs?

Here are some reasons that pigs might catch a swine flu and these might be the causes for them developing the infection:

  • Contact with any infected animals which includes other pigs, birds, or even human.
  • Carrier pigs.
  • Infected water or use of infected pool for the pigs can be a reason.
  • Bacterial infections and other infections could have developed a swine flu in a pig.
  • Fluctuating temperatures or inconsistent temperatures can really affect a pig’s immune system which might cause problems.
  • Poor nutrition or bad food can also be the reason for those swine to develop a flu.

Can swine flu be cured?

Yes. In fact, despite its violent nature if it goes untreated, it is quite easy to treat if you have diagnosed the virus soon enough. Only difficult thing about swine flu is it is difficult to diagnose and that it is so contagious that you cannot risk putting all of your family members to take care of you while you are suffering from the disease. Because it might get spread around the house which is why only one person must be assigned to take care of the patient or patient can get a good care at a hospital.

Swine flu occurs in pigs as well as humans and both can be cured. In case of pigs you can just keep a healthy environment can keep the infected ones away from the healthy ones. You may give them necessary vaccines so that it doesn’t spread.

In case of humans being affected by the swine flu, you can just follow some home remedies which are recommended for normal influenza infections and can get rid of the flu or if you have been severely affected, you can consult a doctor and get a medical attention. Remember that this condition is not something you should be playing around with because it has some fatal complications.

These questions were the most queried questions about this disease so you can get a clear idea about the flu. If you want to know about treating, preventing or applying home remedies for swine flu, you can consult other articles particularly focused about getting rid of swine flu.

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