Swine Flu – Facts
By Eric K Kampel
Swine influenza – Swine influenza or swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by the type A H1N1 swine influenza virus (SIV). Humans in close proximity to swine could contract swine influenza if the swine are carrying the rare strain of the SIV that is capable of affecting humans.
Symptoms – Swine flu symptoms in humans are generally similar to regular flu (influenza) symptoms and include muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, lack of appetite, fever, chills, and general weakness and discomfort. Other reported symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Transmission – H1N1 flu spreads from pigs to humans when humans are close to infected pigs. People working in barns or visiting livestock exhibits housing infected pigs are likely to get affected. Transmission from humans to humans can occur when the infected individual coughs or sneezes when others are close by. Putting one’s hands to the nose or mouth after touching anything with the flu viruses on it could also spread the infection. Consuming well-cooked pork and pork products won’t cause infection as cooking to an internal temperature of 160°F kills bacteria and viruses, including the swine flu virus.
Treatment and medication – While swine flu can generally be cured by the four antiviral drugs approved for curing flu in the US, amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir, the recent 2009 swine flu outbreak viruses have been found to be resistant to the first two drugs. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are now recommended for treatment and prevention of swine influenza.
Prevention – Swine flu can be prevented by taking certain precautionary measures, such as washing hands frequently with soap or an alcohol-based hand wash. Staying away from infected individuals is important as their coughing or sneezing could spread the infection. If instances of infection are reported in your locality, stay indoors as far as possible. Swine flue vaccine could be out by June 2009.