Swine flu is also known as Swine Influenza or Pig Influenza or Pig flu or Hog Flu.Swine flu is a disease of the respiratory system which spreads through droplets of infected person present in air. It is caused by H1N1 virus and its first outbreak was seen in 2009 in Mexico. As the name suggests, initially H1N1 virus infected pigs and they had influenza like symptoms. Earlier swine flu was found in people who had direct contact with pigs. As the virus mutated with time, a new variant developed and now the virus can attack any person irrespective of the contact with pigs.
HOW IS SWINE FLU CAUSED?
The H1N1 virus that causes Swine Flu spreads mainly by droplet infection. The spread of infection is similar to spread of normal flu. Whenever any infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus come out with it, mix with surrounding air and reach the respiratory tract of healthy people through air while inspiration. The swine flu virus can enter the body by coming in contact of contaminated surface like handles or utensils or clothes of infected person. It is because of this reason that the people taking care of infected individuals need to take extra precautions.
Swine flu is most contagious during the first five days of illness although children can remain contagious for up to ten days of infection. You cannot get infected with swine flu by eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products or bacon or ham.
SYMPTOMS OF SWINE FLU
In general, symptoms of swine influenza are similar to the symptoms of influenza or influenza like illness. A study of various outbreaks shows that the symptoms keep on varying in each outbreak. The symptoms of swine flu are:
Pneumonia and respiratory failure are the most serious complications of swine flu. In addition to this; Swine flu worsens chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
COMPLICATIONS OF SWINE FLU
In humans a swine flu infection can make underlying medical conditions like heart problem, asthma and diabetes worse.
The most life threatening complications of swine flu include:
High fever, that causes neurological problems ranging from confusion to seizures.
Dehydration from excess diarrhoea and vomiting.
It is observed that fatalities due to H1N1 are more common in children and elderly.
DIAGNOSIS OF SWINE FLU
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to common influenza so it is hard to distinguish them without clinical tests. If your influenza is deteriorating due to nausea and vomiting or you recently visited an infected area, the diagnosis necessary. People in high risk group need to be tested quickly. The method of diagnosis may include:
Nose and throat swabs
PEOPLE WHO ARE AT HIGHER RISK OF GETTING INFECTED?
Swine farmers and veterinarians have the highest risk of getting infected because of greater exposure.
People travelling to an area where the population is already infected with H1N1 virus.
People with chronic diseases such as asthma, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes, immunocompromised patients
PREVENTION OF SWINE FLU
Good hygiene and social distancing are important for prevention of swine flu. The other measures for prevention of swine flu and limiting its spread include :
Cover your nose and throat while coughing and sneezing.
Wash your hands properly and use alcohol based sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because that can spread infection.