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04 July 2009

What is Swine Flu - H1N1 Virus?


Swine flu, now called H1N1 influenza A, is a type of flu virus. It is a new strain of flu that has just recently been affecting people. It is not caught from pigs or by eating pork. It is a human influenza virus and is being spread by people. It is thought to be a combination of three different flu viruses - swine flu, bird flu and human flu. The new strain is extremely contagious and is quickly spreading across the globe.

H1N1 is different from other strains of influenza. This particular strain of influenza has not been previously exposed to humans before so there are no built up immunities to it. This is what makes it so serious. At the current time there is no preventative drug that you can take in order to avoid getting it. That is why people who are elderly, very young or those who have compromised immune systems must be extremely careful to avoid getting the flu.

Just how dangerous it will be remains to be seen. We are just beginning to see the start of the cases in the United States. It is thought to have originated in Mexico but has since spread globally. The worst cases of it seem to be in Mexico, likely because many people were unaware of the dangers of the flu and did not seek immediate medical treatment.

It was renamed H1N1 influenza A to avoid people making a connection to pigs. This is similar in some ways to the flu that hit the world decades ago. However it is proving to be more serious. The outbreak is becoming serious because nobody has any immunity to this particular strain of influenza. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 4 people who come into contact with swine flu with contract it.

The swine flu has similar symptoms to standard seasonal flu bugs. Swine flu is characterized by a high fever at first and extreme fatigue along with muscle aches. There are also typical cold symptoms that accompany the swine flu including a cough and a sore throat and stuffy nose. Some people additionally have reported nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. The severity of the symptoms is what leads most doctors to consider a diagnosis of swine flu.

Anyone who has the symptoms should seek medical attention right away. Those who get immediate treatment are most likely going to make a full recovery. Doctors take a nose and throat swab sample to send to the lab for testing. The results will be returned within several days. The treatment is a drug called Tamiflu. The doctor will prescribe Tamiflu if it is needed. Most people will get over the swine flu within just a few days. Once you have had swine flu your body will have an immunity from this particular strain in the future.

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