What is swine flu? The risk of a swine flu epidemic started a media buzz in April 2009. Then concerns about untested vaccines and others saying it is as safe as always. Still other tests indicate that it is minimally effective at the best. The first of the phase III vaccine studies are not scheduled to be completed before March, 2010.
Does this meant that all who got the vaccine are the default Phase II and Phase III test volunteers?
Studies show alternative complimentary treatments are very effective, even in those over 65.
To understand why there is concern about a swine flu epidemic, first consider what is swine flu or influenza?
Swine flu is a highly contagious viral infection. It affects the respiratory tract. It causes fever, severe aching, and excessive discharge of mucus in the nose and or throat, lack of appetite, runny nose, nausea, chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. Reports from the current outbreak have an increased percentage of patients reporting diarrhea and vomiting.
These symptoms are not limited to swine flu. To actually be diagnosed with or confirm a diagnosis of swine flu requires laboratory testing of a nose and/or throat swab.
Like humans, other animals can get the flu.
In the case of pigs, they can get the same flu that humans can get. They can also get viruses that birds get. The problem for humans happens when the viruses get in a bit of gene swapping and create a pandemic strain.
When hearing the term swine influenza or swine flu, you are hearing about any influenza caused by any kind of influenza that pigs can get. This is also referred to as swine influenza virus (SIV).
There are three genera of flu that humans can get. Of the three genera of human flu, two are endemic also in swine: Influenza virus A is common and Influenza virus C is rare.
Usually swine flu is common in swine and rare in humans. People who work with swine, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine influenza if the swine carry a strain able to infect humans. However, these strains rarely pass from human to human.
The current flu outbreak we are hearing in the news is a new type of influenza A. It is a subtype called H1N1. It is part human, part avian and two parts (strains) of swine flu. This particular form of flu spreads from person to person very easily. Note that the difference is that it is a mutated form made up of a combination of strains.
You will hear a lot of different initials for the flu. These initials are the genotypes of the influenza A.
How many swine flu viruses are there? Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs. Most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.
H1N1 * subtype found in pigs, this is the 1918 flu
H1N2 * subtype found in pigs
H3N2 * subtype found in pigs
H5N1 * found in pigs in China
The current swine flu is thought to be a second cousin to the 1918 swine flu pandemic.
The swine flu has surfaced twice. In 1957 and again in 1976 it surfaced.
Avian influenza virus H3N2 is the flu from pigs in China and Vietnam.
Swine Flu Symptoms What are they and how will I know if I have it or not?
Prevention of swine influenza has three components: prevention in swine, prevention of transmission to humans, and prevention of its spread among humans.
The flu can be spread through humans by coughing and sneezing. If the virus is picked up by touching anything and then the hand touches the nose, mouth or eye, there is a increased risk of transmission. This means it can be obtained from tabletops, telephones and other surfaces. Once on the hand, it can be transferred to the mouth, nose or eyes.
In most cases it is contagious for the first five days although in children it is thought to be contagious for 10 days.
To prevent spread, washing hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds is recommended. Also alcohol based hand sanitizers are felt to be effective.
Anyone with flu symptoms should avoid public exposure and should be seen by a doctor. You will have a new understanding of what is swine flu at that time.
Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir) are currently used for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.
The majority of people who get infected with the swine flu virus will make a full recovery. Most will recover without medical attention or antiviral drugs.
More important than what is swine flu, what else can you do to protect yourself?
Swine Flu Survival Kit What should be in it, what should not (or if it is, you might not want to use it.)
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