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Swine influenza

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Swine influenza
B00526 H1N1 flu med.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • H1N1
  • H1N2
  • H2N3
  • H3N1
  • H3N2
428341583 79f8bab39a.jpg
Pig from the Kentucky State Fair

Swine influenza (also known as "pig flu"), is an influenza virus that can appear in pigs. Usually, pig to human or human to pig transmission is quite rare. When this does happen, it is considered a zoonotic flu. Zoonotic diseases can be transferred from animal to human. [1] There have been only a few major outbreaks in the past century, usually always beginning in North America. Swine flu is very common among pigs, but risks can be reduced by giving a herd of pigs vaccines. Influenza A is transferable from human to swine and vice-versa. The one that is causing an epidemic in 2009 is influenza A, subtype H1N1. To stay healthy and keep away from this, keep good hygeine. This includes washing hands frequently, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoiding "swine flu parties", staying away from large crowds, and always cover your mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing. Treatments are available to help reduce symptoms and keep them from worsening.


There is a history of swine flu pandemics that have broken out in different regions of the world before the one that broke out in 2009.

1918 Pandemic:
In 1918, a swine flu strain broke out, also called the "Spanish" influenza, for one year. It affected about a third of the world's population at the time, and was the cause of 50 million deaths. This was a prediction from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and they figured that since there were no labs back then that the death rate actually could have been 100 million or more. No one understood that swine influenza and human influenza were connected because of lack of technology. [2]

1976 Swine Flu Scare:
In 1976, yet another swine influenza outbreak occurred. In New Jersey, an Army recruit was not feeling well one day. On February 5, 1976, the next day, he died. Four soldiers were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. Many people were worried because this was so close to the 1918 pandemic, so they acted quickly by contacting President Gerald Ford. About one fourth of Americans were vaccinated. About 500 people came down with immunopathological reactions to the vaccine. [3] 25 people died from a syndrome called "Guillan-Barre Syndrome" also known as GBS. [4] GBS is a rare disease in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. Many times it affects the muscles, and in some cases, it can be life-threatening. [5]

1988 Zoonosis:
A pregnant woman that lived in Wisconsin was of 32 years of age and she was visiting a county fair. While she was at the fair, she visited the hog barn. Eight days after the visit to the fair, she gave birth. Shortly after giving birth, she died. Twenty more people were infected, but no one else died. [6]

1998 Swine Flu among pigs:
During this year swine flu was found in pigs across the US, and spread from pig to pig easily. No human has ever got infected with this strain. [7]

2007 Swine Flu among pigs:
During this time, in the Philippines, about 10% of pigs died. The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) raised the flu outbreak in pigs to a "red alert" on July 27, 2009.[8]

2009 Outbreak:
This outbreak was transferred from humans to pigs, then from pigs to humans. It's a new strain that hasn't been reported in pigs before. [9] This strain of swine flu originated in Mexico. [10] Since the pandemic began in April of 2009, around 5,000 people have died as of October 25, 2009. Obama declared a national emergency for the United States of America. [11] This virus is caused by influenza A, subtype H1N1. [12]

Spread of H1N1

From Pig to Pig
Pigs can spread swine flu to each other by direct contact. When there are contaminated objects moving along from pig to pig, that's also how they can catch it. Some herds have vaccinated pigs, whilst others have infected pigs. Pigs will often having fever, cough, and discharge from nose and/or eyes. [13]

From Human to Pig
A human can give this flu to a pig (swine). The epicenter for the 2009 outbreak was caused by this. A carpenter traveled to Mexico in May and transferred it to a herd of pigs. This has been the only case of its kind. [14]

This virus can survive on a door knob, and be active, for about 2 to 8 hours. Germs can spread from person to person, or even from someone sneezing or coughing in the air, and you can breath in a little droplet. Swine flu is not spread through eating pork or even preparing it. There has been a case of someone catching swine flu from water contact (recreational, pools, water parks, etc.) but CDC recommends pools to have a certain amount of chlorine that kills the germ. [15]

Swine Flu Parties
Many people are choosing to purposefully catch the new H1N1 flu strain. People are hosting "swine flu parties" in hopes of catching it. Many believe that by going to these parties, they will catch swine flu this year while the symptoms are mild, and next year if a new strain hits that is worse, they will be immune to it. This is dangerous because not everyone knows how they will react to this swine flu that is circulating. [16] CDC recommends to stay far away from these parties, because many people have become extremely ill or have even died from swine flu. [17]

Types of Swine Influenza

This image is of the newly identified H1N1 influenza virus, from the U.S. Center for Disease Control Influenza Laboratory

There are three main classifications of swine influenza including: influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C.

Influenza A
Influenza A is thought of to have caused the swine influenza outbreak. Influenza A has four subtypes:

  • H1N1
  • H1N2
  • H3N1
  • H3N2
  • H2N3

H3N2 has been found to have avian, swine, and human genes all mixed into one. This virus can affect birds, pigs, and humans.

Influenza B
Influenza B has never been recorded to infect pigs. [18] This type of flu is found only in seals and humans, but is not as severe as influenza A. Symptoms include headache, fever, sore throat, aches, and coughing. Recovery from this strain, which can be deadly, can take up to two weeks. [19]

Influenza C
This strain is ineffective to birds, but it can affect humans and pigs. Influenza C can cause mild outbreaks, but never enough to call for pandemics or epidemics. [20] Symptoms of this virus are often similar to a cold which include: coughing, runny nose, and a sore throat. [21]


Main symptoms of swine flu in humans

Many symptoms of swine flu are similar to the seasonal flu, with a few exceptions. Symptoms that one might have when he/she has a cold are often present which includes: coughing, runny nose, and a sore throat. Other symptoms present: fever (not necessarily in all cases), aching body, headache, diarrhea and vomiting, extreme tiredness, and chills. These are all symptoms that are commonly found in many swine flu cases. When someone has respiratory problems or pneumonia, that is a more serious case of the H1N1 virus. People who have chronic medical problems, obesity, and pregnant women are at highest risk for catching swine flu. Serious swine flu symptoms include: trouble with breathing, persistent vomiting, little interaction, extreme irritability, and not enough drinking enough fluids.[22]

Seasonal flu is different in the fact that a fever is almost a definite symptom as is dry coughing and stomach irritation. 36,000 people die each year from just the seasonal flu and flu-related complications. [23]

Prevention and Treatment

The CDC is telling people that it is definitely best to get two vaccines this year. One for seasonal flu and another for swine flu. To avoid catching swine flu, always cover mouth and nose with your arm or a tissue. Throw the tissue away after use to prevent germs from spreading. Always wash hands with soap and warm water. If no water is available, use an alcohol hand sanitizer. Germs spread by touching anywhere near your face including eyes, nose, and mouth. If you know someone is sick, avoid contact with them. Stay home from wherever you are going if you have a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more at least 24 hours after that. Avoid large crowds and follow school closures. [24]

To be prepared just in case you might get sick and can't get out, have things like hand sanitizers, over-the-counter medicines, and other medical items you may need. It is best not to go out into public when you are sick. There are antiviral drugs that can help treat symptoms of swine flu. Not only will these drugs help you feel better, but they will prevent your sickness from worsening. [25]

A clean and dry environment is essential for a pig to stay healthy. Keep pigs that are infected with the flu away from pigs that are not infected. Antibiotics are often helpful to minimizing the symptoms of swine flu. Pigs can get a vaccination in order to prevent the spreading of the flu among other pigs. [26]


External links

Media Reference

See Also