Swine Flu – How Worried Should You Be?
A unique strain of swine flu is suspected for having caused the deaths of dozens of people in Mexico. To try to contain the outbreak, schools, libraries, museums and theatres in the capital were closed. More than 1000 people in Mexico have caught the virus. People in Texas and California are also thought to have been sickened.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease which infects pigs. It is common among herds of pigs where the disease causes high levels of illness but is rarely fatal. Most animals, in which the virus begins, are able to shake off the illness but when it transfers to humans, they have no immunity to this strain. The World Health Organization are convening to consider whether to raise the pandemic alert level.
This new virus has been found to combine genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have not seen before. It contains human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia. It is not known whether it is completely new or it has been around for a while but only now has been detected.
It tends to spread in autumn and winter but can occur all year round.
Swine Flu Outbreak – What are the Symptoms
The symptoms of swine flu in humans are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza. These include:
- Lack of appetite and Coughing.
Some people with swine flu have also reported:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and Diarrhea.
How Does Swine Flu Spread?
Influenza viruses can be transmitted directly from pigs to people and vice versa. Humans who catch flu viruses from pigs are most likely to do so because they are in close proximity to infected pigs. This is then transferred from human to human.
Swine flu is thought to spread in the same way as seasonal flu. This is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing and sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus.
People can also become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it then touching their mouth or nose.
Precautions Against Catching Swine Flu:
The CDC recommends routine precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as:
- Wash Hands Often
- Cover Nose and Mouth when you Cough or Sneeze
- Avoid Close Contact with Sick People
- If you Are Sick, Stay at Home and Limit Contact with Others.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
How Worried Should People Be?
Any new strain of flu that emerges that has the ability to pass from animal to person, then person to person, is always monitored closely in case it has the potential to spark a pandemic
The World Health Organisation is concerned and is considering whether to change the threat level warning for a pandemic.
The most notorious flu pandemic is thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19. Two other less deadly flu pandemics struck in 1957 and 1968.
Considering how quickly flu can spread around the globe, because there has already been the first signs of a pandemic, it could therefore be, according to one University Professor, that the virus is probably incubating around the world already
Swine Flu Symptoms
Swine Flu in 1976