Swine Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by the Influenza A, H1N1 virus. But now, some people in the US have been infected with this disease. The outbreak started in Mexico and now there are reports of people in various countries being infected with the swine flu. This disease is highly contagious, and the virus can easily be transmitted to others through the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. Since the disease is viral, it has a potential to become pandemic, which is the main cause of worry.
The new strain of the virus that is causing human swine flu is different from the ones found in pigs. This strain has different genetic composition and consists of the components of bird flu, human flu, and swine flu viruses. The flu viruses keep on undergoing changes with the time. The changes are basically due to the mutations, which causes the antigen drift. The virus becomes more powerful and potent with the antigen drift since the immune system is not ready to fight against it. Also, the vaccines meant for the flu becomes futile when there are changes in the antigen as the main aim of the vaccine is to attack the antigen. All this results in the high probability of the rapid spread of the virus. The main reason for the worldwide concern about the swine flu is that the efficacy of the available flu vaccines in the cases of swine flu is not clear.
The swine flu could also cause damage to the lungs in young and healthy patients. The reason for this is Cytokine storm. Cytokines are the cell messengers and when any virus tries to enter the body, these cytokines are produced in large amounts to activate the immune cells. The high amounts of cytokines can cause inflammation, which can cause damage to the respiratory organs in the cases of swine flu. The symptoms of this disease are similar to the human flu. The person suffering from it has high fever, cold, cough, sore throat, headaches, muscular pain, fatigue, skin rashes, difficulty in breathing, vomiting and diarrhea. The two drugs Tamilflu and Relenza are found to be effective in treating swine flu cases.
This disease can be transferred from the infected persons to others, even before the infected person develops the symptoms of the disease. Touching the objects with flu viruses could also transmit the virus.
Some precautions that should be observed to keep this infection at bay are mentioned below:
- Wash your hands frequently with alcohol-based cleaner and keep them away from the mouth and nose.
- Use masks, particularly when you are outdoors. There are different kinds of masks available that provide some sort of barrier against the viruses. These masks filter the particles present in the air and prevent you from the droplets of coughing and sneezing of the other persons.
- Avoid meeting sick people, especially if you are tired, run down or your immune system is not in tip top shape.
- Though there is no threat of getting infected by eating pig products, you should cook pork properly at 160 degree F to kill all types of viruses.
Also, keep this disease in perspective. The typical influenza virus (the flu), kills many thousands of people each year, typically the very young and the very old, the same groups at the greatest risk from the swine flu strain.