Knowledge Of Swine Flu

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Every day we are getting reports and reading news about the outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico. There have been a handful of cases in the US and other countries like Spain, Germany etc that have tested positive. Everyone would want to know “What is Swine Flu”?” Swine flu as the name suggests usually affects pigs. However, with some changes to its original form it has now also affected humans. It can infect from human to human in a short period.

We need to keep ourselves informed about the flu to ensure that there are no extreme panic responses to the infection. The name swine flu has been given as it resembles the flu that infects the pigs. Earlier too, there were swine flu cases but that infection was mainly among those who came in direct contact with pigs. However, the new virus that has spread is a virulent new strain. It is has infected many people who have no contact with pigs at all. A flu is normally broken down into different types like Flu A, B and C. It is further categorized as per surface molecules, H for Haemagglutinin and N. The new strain that is circulating is H1N1 virus known to circulate in humans as well as pigs and birds.

Is it transmissible?

According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) the new swine flu is highly contagious and easily spreads from person to person. It spreads in a similar manner as ordinary colds and flu. The main source is the droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an affected person coughs or sneezes. If the person fails to cover the nose or mouth while coughing and sneezing, the virus may be transferred to anyone within a one meter distance.

Similarly it may also spread if a person coughs or sneezes into their hands and those droplets with the virus are transferred to any surface that the person touches like door handles and hand rails. When you touch these surfaces and touch your face the virus may enter into your system and you can become infected.


The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of the regular flu. Sore throat, cough, fever, body aches, headache, fatigue and chills are the indications of this disease. The 2009 outbreak also has people reporting diarrhea and vomiting. However, with these symptoms being common to regular flu it requires a lab test to find if its swine flu or any other condition. Fatality is caused due to complications like pneumonia and respiratory failure.

To avoid spread if you have flu symptoms, it is preferable to stay home and use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Clean hands after throwing away the tissue. Tamiflu and Relenza are known to be more effective drugs when taken within 48 hours of the start of flu like symptoms.
Keeping yourself informed of what is happening in your community is very important. Seek the guidance of the local health department to understand the situation in your area and ensure preventive measures as per their advice.

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