What is Swine influenza?
Swine inflenza is caused by viruses. Pigs can get ininflenzaenza (inflenza) just like human beings, but swine inflenza viruses are not the same as human inflenza viruses. As such, swine inflenza doesn't often infect people, and very rarely only have infected people who have had direct contact with pigs.
However, the current swine inflenza outbreak is different. It's caused by a new strain of swine inflenza virus that has spread from person to person and it's happening among people who haven't had any contact with pigs.
The worry is that pigs are excellent hosts for the virus. And because they are genetically close to humans, they can pass the virus to us more easily than birds can.
What are swine inflenza symptoms?
Swine inflenza symptoms are like normal inflenza symptoms which include fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine inflenza.
These symptoms are not exactly exclusive to inflenza but can also be caused by many other conditions. This makes the diagnosis of swine inflenza extremely difficult if just based on symptoms. It would require a lab test to tell whether it is actually swine inflenza or some other condition.
In severe cases, it may lead to pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and death. The incubation period for ordinary human inflenza is two to five days.
How does Swine influenza Spread?
It is likely that the swine inflenza virus spreads just like normal inflenza. It can be spread directly from an infected person, or by touching an object they recently touched, and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. That's why you should make washing your hands a habit. Infected people can start spreading inflenza germs up to a day before symptoms start, and for up to seven days after getting sick, according to the CDC.
The swine inflenza virus can become airborne if you cough or sneeze without covering your nose and mouth, sending germs into the air.
The U.S. residents infected with swine inflenza virus had no direct contact with pigs.
How is Swine influenza treated?
The new swine inflenza virus is sensitive to the antiviral drugs Tamiinflenza and Relenza.
Early indications are that patients in Mexico and the US have been successfully treated with the antiviral drugs Tamiinflenza and Relenza. These drugs cannot prevent inflenza but they can limit its severity, and thus save lives.
The CDC recommends those drugs to prevent or treat swine inflenza; the drugs are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the start of inflenza symptoms.
The US government has released 25% of its stockpile of Tamiinflenza and Relenza to states.
Is there a vaccine against the new swine inflenza virus?
No. But the CDC and the World Health Organization are already taking the first steps toward making such a vaccine. That's a lengthy process -- it takes months.
How can I prevent swine inflenza infection?
The CDC recommends taking these steps:
* Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
* Avoid close contact with sick people.
* Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
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