Saturday, May 2, 2009


Swine influenza (also swine flu) refers to influenza caused by any strain of the influenza virus endemic in pigs (swine). Swine influenza is known to be caused by influenza A subtypes H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, H2N3.

Epidemiology: Earlier,many cases in swine (2007 Philippines) & in humans(The "Spanish" influenza pandemic of 1918–19 infected one third of the world's population and US outbreak in 1976)were reported.

The new strain of influenza involved in the 2009 swine flu outbreak is a combination of several strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 that are separately endemic in humans and in swine.

In response to the intensifying outbreak, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 4alert.

Who are at risk? Swine flu is common in swine and rare in humans. People who work with swine, people with intense exposures ,are at risk of catching swine influenza. Rarely these strains are able to pass from human to human.Swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted through food.

Infectivity: The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness.Although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days.

Clinical features: In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza.Symptoms include ,chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised physicians to "consider swine influenza infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute febrile respiratory illness who have either been in contact with persons with confirmed swine flu, or who were in one of the five U.S. states that have reported swine flu cases or in Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset."

Diagnosis: A diagnosis of confirmed swine flu requires laboratory testing of a respiratory sample (a simple nose and throat swab)

Prevention:Experts agree that hand-washing can help to prevent viral infections, a surprisingly effective way to prevent all sorts of diseases, including ordinary influenza and the new swine flu virus.Frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public.Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, cough or muscle aches should stay away from work or public transportation and should see a doctor to be tested.

Further reading: Swine flu

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