The recent outbreak of swine flu has people in a panic. The World Health Organization has called the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” The European Union’s health commissioner has advised people to avoid traveling to both the United States and Mexico, where most of the infections have been reported. The media has certainly hyped up the outbreak, but what do you need to know about swine flu?
What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by type A influenza virus that leads to outbreaks of influenza in pigs. It causes high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Most outbreaks occur during late fall and winter months, which coincides with the human flu season.
Is swine flu something new?
The original swine flu virus was isolated from a pig back in 1930.
Can the swine flu infect humans?
Swine flu does not usually infect humans. The infections that have occurred have mainly been in people who have had direct exposure to pigs. The swine flu infecting people currently is a particularly strong mutation of the virus that is spreading more easily.
How is swine flu contracted?
As with human influenza, the swine flu spreads from person to person easily. People can become infected by touching their mouth, eyes, or nose after touching something with the flu virus on it. Sneezing and coughing can transmit the virus.
Can swine flu be contracted by eating pork?
Swine flu viruses are not transmitted by eating pork products, as long as they are cooked properly.
What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Swine flu symptoms are similar to those of the common flu: Coughing, runny nose, fever, sore throat, nausea, lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting.
What are the treatment and/or prevention options?
Flu viruses constantly mutate, which makes preventing them a difficult task. Swine flu is no different. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for treating and/or preventing the swine flu.