Swine flu: Introduction
The swine flu, medically known as swine influenza, is a general term for a variety of strains of influenza virus commonly found in pigs. Sometimes, some people who have frequent, close contact with pigs, such as farmers or veterinarians, may catch a strain of the swine flu from pigs. More rarely, this disease may then be passed to other people.
The H1N1 flu, which is the cause of the 2009 global influenza pandemic, is commonly referred to as the swine flu. The H1N1 flu is one type of swine flu, but is very different from other strains of swine flu. It actually developed from a combination of avian, swine, and human flu viruses, and it is far more contagious than typical forms of the swine flu. Other forms of the swine flu include the H3N2 flu and the H3N1 flu.
In general, swine flu strains do not spread easily from pigs to humans, and even when they do, they not always cause disease in people. Most swine flu strains also do not spread easily from human to human. In contrast, the H1N1 flu spreads far easier and more quickly from person to person than other forms of swine flu.
The swine flu causes an infection of the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. The effects of the swine flu can vary from mild to severe to life-threatening, depending on individual factors, such as the specific strain of the swine flu, age, general health status, and the presence of coexisting chronic conditions, such as cancer or diabetes.
The swine flu can spread from person to person when someone with the disease talks, coughs or sneezes. This scatters droplets contaminated with the swine flu virus into the air where it can be breathed in by others. The swine flu also spreads by touching an infected person or a surface contaminated by the swine flu virus, such as a dirty drinking glass or doorknob.
Symptoms of the swine flu can vary greatly among individuals. They may include diarrhea, vomiting, chills, fever, sneezing, body aches, headache, fatigue, sore throat, and cough. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of swine flu.
The swine flu in humans can be a mild disease, or in some people it may result in serious, even life-threatening complications. These can include pneumonia, acute bronchitis, worsening of chronic conditions, respiratory failure, and death.
People who are at increased risk for developing serious complications of the swine flu include residents of long-term care facilities, hospitalized patients, and pregnant women. Other people at risk include those with an immunodeficiency disorder, a suppressed immune system, or a chronic disorder, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
A person in good general health with a mild form of any influenza virus may often be given a general diagnosis of "flu" after taking a thorough health history and performing a physical exam. This population can generally recover from the swine flu at home with supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and pain relievers.
Although rapid testing is available to help detect the flu, it is not always accurate and cannot distinguish between the H1N1 flu and other types of swine flu or flu strains. Results of rapid flu testing do not generally change the treatment of the flu or flu-like symptoms in generally healthy people with a mild form of the swine flu.
More extensive testing, which can take days to obtain results, is available to differentiate between different strains of the swine flu and other types of flu. However, this testing may only be used for people whose care is complex and are at high risk of complications, such as those who are hospitalized or have chronic conditions, such as HIV or diabetes.
Because the symptoms of the swine flu can mimic other diseases, such as strep throat, some other forms of testing, such as a throat culture and sensitivity, may be done to rule out other diseases. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of swine flu.
Protection from getting or spreading the swine flu includes covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. You can also use antibacterial cleaners to clean hands and surfaces. It is also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which can transmit the swine virus from your hands into your body.
Another important cornerstone of prevention of the spread of the swine flu is the newly developed H1N1 vaccine and the use of masks and gloves when handling infected pigs. In addition, prevention measures include controlling the spread of the swine flu in pig populations, vaccinating pigs, and quarantining infected animals and those that are new to a country, area, or a particular farm.
There is currently no cure for the swine flu. Treatment includes measures to help relieve symptoms and keep the body as strong as possible to minimize the risk of developing complications. This includes rest, medications to ease body aches and fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. The age-old remedy of chicken soup may actually help to break up congestion and provides easy-to-digest nutrients to help keep up strength.
Antibiotics are ineffective against the swine flu. For some people, a prescribed antiviral drug may be appropriate to help shorten the length of the disease. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of swine flu. ...more »
Swine flu: The Swine Flu is a respiratory viral disease which is usually found in pigs but can sometimes be transmitted to humans and cause epidemics or even pandemics. The viral strain involved is type A H1N1. The virus can be spread amongst humans from direct contact which can occur through coughing, sneezing or contamination of hands and surfaces. The severity of symptoms is highly variable, although with most people suffering only relatively mild symptoms. Patients are considered contagious for up to a week after the onset of symptoms but children may be contagious for longer periods of time.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Swine flu is available below.
Swine flu: Symptoms
Symptoms of the swine flu can vary greatly in intensity and seriousness among individuals. Symptoms can be mild and "cold-like", including runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. Symptoms can also be more uncomfortable and serious and include fever above 101 degrees F, coughing, body aches, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, abdominal pain and vomiting.
When the ...more symptoms »
Swine flu: Treatments
Treatment of the swine flu starts with prevention of outbreaks of swine flu in pig populations. Outbreaks of swine flu in pigs increase the chances of transmitting the disease to farm workers and veterinarians who in turn may spread the disease to other human populations. Preventive measures include vaccinating pigs and quarantining infected animals or pigs that are new to a ...more treatments »
Swine flu: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of the swine flu is generally made from information obtained by taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. Although rapid testing is available to help detect the flu, it is not always accurate and cannot distinguish between the H1N1 flu and other types of flu.
A misdiagnosis is possible because the ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Swine flu
See full list of 12
symptoms of Swine flu
Treatments for Swine flu
- Antiviral medications
- Zanamivir (Relenza)
- Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
- Home Management: Patients who suspect they may have Human Swine Flu Influenza or have been in contact with someone who has or may have it should adhere the following procedure
- Stay at home - Preventspread of disease by staying in their home if you have flu-like symptoms.
- more treatments...»
See full list of 27
treatments for Swine flu
Home Diagnostic Testing
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Hospitals & Clinics: Swine flu
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Prognosis for Swine flu
Prognosis for Swine flu:
Most people tend to suffer only a relatively mild illness. More serious symptoms and even death tend to occur in people with other underlying health problems or in those who have a weakened immune system.
More about prognosis of Swine flu
Swine flu: Broader Related Topics
Types of Swine flu
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Definitions of Swine flu:
An acute and highly contagious respiratory disease of swine caused by the orthomyxovirus thought to be the same viurs that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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