Swine Flu: The Facts and How Tamiflu Can Help You Defend Against It
With the recent outbreak of swine flu, and the issuing of a threat pandemic status by the World Health Organization(WHO), There is quite a frenzy in search of information on how to avoid being exposed to this new strain of influenza. It is extremely difficult to obtain the facts concerning swine flu, as the media is more in a panic mode, than it is being informative about the situation. With that in mind, turn off the TV or the radio, and consider all the facts in this report so you can become completely informed about this potentially deadly strain of influenza.
What exactly is swine flu?
The swine flu is a type of influenza that originates in pigs. The flu season in pigs happens around the same time season in humans. First discovered in 1930, the most common strain of swine flu, H1N1, was discovered in 1930. The typical symptoms of the swine flu in pigs show manifestations which are similar to humans, however the death rate is remarkably low, even when compared to the human strain of influenza.
As it is with the human forms of influenza, the swine flu mutates over time, forming new strains. Pigs are also susceptible to human and avian(bird) flu strains as well, because they have a low immune system. As pigs can be attacked by any three of these types of influenza, there is a lot of gene swapping and gene mutations which create newer, hybrid versions of influenza in pigs. In the last few years, there have been many new strains of swine flu virus discovered as a result of these mutations. Of the ones that have been found, the most common are considered type A influenza strains in pigs, and they are: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. Of these four common strains, H1N1, the one currently infecting humans, is not the most common in pigs.
How easily can humans contract the swine flu?
By nature, infections of the swine flu do not normally affect humans. Although it has been very rare, from time to time, infections of swine flu in humans have been discovered. In these cases, the common denominator was a prolonged exposure to pigs. Although this is not being commonly reported in the news, there have been several incidents where swine flu is passed from one human to another, documented in recent years in 1976. Although no major outbreak was associated with this event, it was finally understood that humans could pass the H1N1 swine flu from one to another.
What is the frequency of human infection?
Prior to this recent outbreak, the Center for Disease Control(CDC) had received reports of one human infection every 2 to 3 years. However, since December of 2005, an increase in human infection has been discovered, and 12 instances were found within that four year time(2005-2008).
How does the swine flu manifest its symptoms in humans?
Because the symptoms of swine flu in pigs are nearly identical to the symptoms suffered by humans, it is believed that a human infected with swine flu will exhibit the same symptoms. Typical symptoms include: high fever, fatigue, chronic coughing, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms have been found in humans who have contracted swine flu – these additional symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, sore or scratchy throat, and hayfever.
Does the consumption of pork have any relation to humans contracting swine flu?
It’s in a word, no. It is not possible to contract the swine flu from eating any pork derived products, so long as they are prepared correctly and safely. In doing so, this kills any traces of the swine flu virus in the meat.
How does swine flu spread as it has so quickly in the recent days?
As the swine flu can be transmitted with relative ease from pigs to humans and vice versa, it can be contracted in the same way humans spread the disease to one another. Any type of prolonged exposure to pigs, such as livestock shows, farms, slaughterhouses, etc. will make it more possible for a human to contract the disease. Humans can easily contract swine flu by transmission methods such as coughing and sneezing, or touching something that has been infested by the swine flu virus. By touching the mouth or nose after exposure, a human can become infected.
Were there any other swine flu outbreaks in the past?
Although the media is not reporting this for some reason, there was an outbreak of swine flu in 1976 at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. Although there was only one death associated with this outbreak, doctors on the Army base had misdiagnosed the instances as pneumonia. It should also be noted that President Ford was inoculated for swine flu at this time as well. The exact cause and reasons for the outbreak in 1976 have never been discovered, but is believed to be the result of an overpopulated army base.
The current swine flu strain infecting humans is called H1N1. Isn’t H1N1 the same strain as the human virus?
Yes and no. While both of these denote a common strain of influenza in both pigs and humans, they are entirely different and separate from each other, having entirely different genetic makeups. For this reason the vaccine for the human H1N1 strain would not be effective in fighting the H1N1 strain of swine flu.
What about N95 Face Masks to Stop The Spread of Swine Flu?
You may have seen on TV news footage of people wearing N95 face masks in order to prevent the spread of swine flu. While this can help somewhat in stopping the spread of this virus, it is important to note that any kind of exposure that the mask has to the swine flu, the mask only serves to stop the introduction of the virus into the human body. Once you use your hands to take off the mask, you can transmit the germs into the human body fairly easy. For this reason alone, the N95 masks should only be considered a precaution, but not a 100% solution to the spread of the swine flu.
Is there a vaccine in development?
At the present time, there are only vaccines which are given to pigs to prevent them from contracting swine influenza. The typical vaccine for influenza in humans, affectionately known as the flu shot, can prove effective in supplying a partial defense against some forms of the swine flu, but not the H1N1 swine influenza strain.
What is the possible death rate in humans with the swine flu?
This fact is also not being currently discussed in the media. With the data that we have studied and found in cases in times past, the mortality rate is no more a threat, if not less, than the human strain of influenza. However, this could be because that the information which we have deduced is slightly skewed – due to the fact that swine flu does not infect humans often. With the knowledge that we have researched and collected thus far, swine flu is not any more lethal than the human flu – and, using what we know so far, the human flu can be considered more lethal than the swine flu.
How does the swine flu relate to the recent avian or bird flu threat?
The strain of bird flu which infected humans in the latter part of the 90s, was H9N2, making it entirely different from the strains both swine flu and human flu. Researchers have discovered that the avian flu, or bird flu, is actually more dangerous than the swine and human strains of influenza because the immune system in human beings does not recognize or know how to defend against the bird strain. When bird flu is introduced into the human body, it does so in a sneaky way, infiltrating the human body and confusing the immune system. As such, the symptoms are a more severe, as the body searches for a way to fight off the bird flu.
If it could be put this way, one of the advantages that we had with the outbreak of the bird flu, was that it taught us how to deal with the current situation with the swine flu. In general, we have the same scientists working on the swine flu that were working on the bird flu back then; so, the amount of steps needed to research and develop treatments and/or vaccines is dramatically increased. There is no need to start from scratch, all we need to do is look up our pattern in researching the avian flu, and adjust and edit accordingly to the swine flu. Also it should be noted, that even only 10 or 11 years ago, when the first cases of the bird flu started to appear, medical research has improved greatly. This brings us to the subject of the discoveries they made in effectively treating bird flu.
Since the first outbreaks of the bird flu, it seems it has been contained and stabilized, concerning the human rate of infection. Also helpful during the outbreak of the bird flu, the new, powerful antibiotic, Tamiflu, was used in treating bird flu cases. Tamiflu was proven to be nearly 100% effective in ridding the bird flu from humans, so long as the patient taking the medication followed its five-day recommended dosage instructions. Generally after the five-day dosage, patients returned to their normal selves, and the antibodies effective in fighting off bird flu in the future are built-up.