Monday, April 27, 2009


Swine flu is a respiratory disease which affects pigs. From time to time, the flu strains found in pigs mutate making them capable of passing from pigs to human hosts. Once strains of swine flu have passed into the human population, the disease is able to be spread from person to person. Each time influenza passes from pigs to people the form of the virus is unique. Sometimes the virus is virulent, deadly and easily passed. Other times it is hard to pass and less lethal.

The 2009 strain of Swine Flu (H1N1) which infected people in Mexico, the U.S., and Spain is able to be passed from person to person and appears to have a mortality rate of between 1-7%. It is not yet known how easily this H1N1 strain can be passed. An infected person is contagious from 1 day prior to symptoms throughout the 7 day symptomatic period. It is important to take precautions to prevent infection. These include: Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water (for at least 20-25 seconds.), washing with antibiotic gels, covering mouth/nose when sneezing, getting plenty of rest, staying active, and eating healthy foods.

Symptoms are nearly identical to the common flu and include: fever, body aches, cough, sneezing, headache, chills and fatigue. In some cases people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Tests exist to accurately indicate whether an ill person is suffering from H1N1 or common influenza.

The H1N1 strain of Swine Flu is susceptible to treatment with oseltamivir or zanamivir. The severity of illness varies greatly from person to person. Some people become only mildly sick, while others develop dangerous respiratory infections which require hospitalization.

Normally, influenza is only dangerous to the very young, very old or people with compromised immune systems. H1N1 has shown itself to be lethal to a broader swathe of society, primarily those between the ages of 20 and 40.

There is currently no vaccine for the H1N1 Swine Flu, but Baxter International, a pharmaceutical company, is working to develop a vaccine within 6 months.

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