Health experts, doctors and researchers have not only heard of and identified swine flu, they continue to work on preventing and treating this form of influenza. Known by the virus-identifier H1N1, swine flu is causing illness in human beings.
First identified in United States residents in April of 2009, the virus is spreading around the world. The movement of H1N1 has occurred at such an alarming rate that the World Health Organization quickly declared the influenza experience was a pandemic.
Some confusion has resulted from associating H1N1 with the term swine flu. The virus that is making people sick is similar to viruses that usually are found in pigs. But there are major differences between the two, human and swine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most of the people who contract swine flu recover without the assistance of doctors or other medical personnel. According to CDC, “Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.”
Swine flu or H1N1 symptoms include body aches, chills, fatigue, cough, fever, runny nose and most of the common influenza symptoms. While many normally healthy people get over this flu without serious complications, there have been severe illnesses, even death, in some individuals. Almost all medical information about H1N1 includes warnings for older people (over 65), the very young (under 5) and for those who have a serious chronic medical condition that weakens the system. People in the high-risk category include the pregnant, those with diabetes and heart disease and so on.
One of the problems with new influenza viruses such as swine flu is that medical personnel don’t have good information about when it occurs, how long it lasts etc. With more common flu viruses that society has dealt with for years there is plenty of information about when to expect them and how to deal with them.
Records indicate that with more common flu viruses, 90 percent of the people who become seriously ill or die are over 65. A few months of study in 2009 shows that H1N1 flu “has caused greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than older people.” (CDC report).
Studies have also shown that those who have swine flu may infect others from about one day before illness to approximately 7 days after.
Vaccines have been developed for H1N1 and the medical community continues to feel this is the best, level-one preventive measure. But people can help limit the spread of H1N1 by carefully covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Careful washing of hands may also help. The CDC “recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to go to a medical expert or for absolute emergencies. Avoiding those already ill and avoiding crowds when can be strong preventive measures.