Are you wondering what the symptoms of swine flu are? You’re not alone. With all the news on the reported cases here in the U.S., Mexico and around the world, people are panicking. And they’re looking for reliable information on the virus. This article not only reveals what the symptoms are, but also what it is, how it’s spread, how it affects people and more importantly, how it’s treated.
But before we look at the swine flu symptoms, let’s look at the virus itself and the affect it has on humans.
What is Swine Flu?
As described on the CDC website, swine flu (a/k/a swine influenza) is a respiratory disease in pigs that’s caused by type A flu virus that regularly causes outbreaks of the virus in pigs. These viruses can change all the time, but the CDC has identified four (4) types or strains of swine flu that affect pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. H1N1 is the most common type of swine flu virus – it’s also the strain responsible for the Mexican outbreak and the reported cases in the states. Pigs can become infected by other pigs, birds and humans. Direct transmission is from pigs to humans and humans to pigs.
How Does Swine Flu Affect Humans?
Humans don’t usually get infected with the swine flu virus, but there have been periods of time – like now – when people have been infected by outbreaks of swine flu. In most cases, people get swine flu from having direct contact with pigs. But there have been incidents of infected persons spreading the virus to other people. Up until Feb. 2009, there were only 12 reported cases of people being infected with the swine influenza virus.
What Are the Symptoms of Swine Flu?
In addition to the usual symptoms of regular human flu virus, here are the symptoms of people who may have been infected with the swine flu:
- high fever – above 100
- feeling lethargic
- loss of appetite,
- coughing or sneezing, and
- in some cases, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, sore throat and nausea.
If you have the above symptoms – especially a high fever, you should see your doctor right away.
How Swine Flu is Diagnosed and Treated
To confirm that someone has swine flu, a specimen has to be collected within 4-5 days of the person getting sick. But for children the time period could be longer – 10 or more days. The specimen gets sent to the CDC to determine if it’s the swine flu and if it is, to identify the strain.
In the United States, swine flu can be treated with one of four (4) antiviral medicines: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. According to the CDC website, the CDC recommends using oseltamivir or zanamivir to treat and/or prevent infection from the various swine flu viruses. The other treatments, amantadine and rimantadine haven’t proven to be effective in fighting the current strains of the virus.
Right now there’s no vaccine to prevent swine flu and it could take months to develop one. But here’s what you can do to protect yourself: (a) frequently wash your hands with soap & water or hand sanitizer; (b) use a tissue to cover your mouth & nose when you cough or sneeze – flush the tissue down the toilet; (c) stay home from work and school if you’re feeling sick or are experiencing the symptoms of swine flu; and (d) wear a disposable mask (not required at this point, but if it makes you feel more secure, you should do it) .
From what you have read, you should not only have a better understanding of what the symptoms of swine flu are, but also what swine flu is, how it affects humans, how it’s diagnosed and the treatment recommended by the CDC as well what you can do to protect yourself.