Posted by: Satheesh Kumar Muthu | May 9, 2009

Information about Swine Flu

Information about swine flu including symptoms, treatment and what to do if you think you have it.

What is swine flu?

Swine Influenza (Swine flu) is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses that leads to outbreaks in pigs and occasionally infects humans. It is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is not yet known how easily the virus can spread between people, though human-to-human transmission has occurred in some instances.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in humans?

Symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to that of the regular flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, aching body, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting. Severe illness including pneumonia and respiratory failure have been reported as being caused by swine flu in people. The virus may heighten the severity of underlying chronic medical conditions, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Swine influenza A is thought to spread in the same way as seasonal flu, from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. It is possible to become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching the mouth or nose. Those infected with the virus can spread it to others one day before symptoms develop and a week or more after becoming sick. Young children may be contagious for longer periods.

How can I avoid catching the virus?

There is no vaccine currently available to protect against swine flu. The best ways to prevent catching the virus include avoiding contact with people who are ill, trying not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus, staying in good general health and being physically active, getting lots of sleep, reducing stress, drinking lots of fluids and eating nutritious food. It is also important to limit the spread of germs by washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throwing the used tissue away, as well as avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

How common is swine flu infection in humans?

The CDC have received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the US, but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.

What countries are affected by outbreaks in pigs?

The disease is considered endemic in the US and outbreaks in pigs are known to have occurred in the US, Europe, Africa and parts of eastern Asia including China and Japan.

Is it safe to eat pork meat and pork products?

Yes, swine flu has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork, according to the WHO.

I think I’ve got swine flu, what should I do?

Contact your health care provider if you are worried about your symptoms and if you live in areas where swine flu cases have been identified. If you are sick you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to avoid spreading your illness, according to the CDC.

Adults who experience these warning signs should seek urgent medical attention:

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Severe or persistent vomiting
Sudden dizziness

Children who experience these warning signs should seek urgent medical attention:

Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin colour
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Not drinking enough fluids
Fever with a rash

Treating swine flu

The use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with the swine influenza viruses is recommended by the CDC. Taking antiviral drugs such as pills, liquids or inhalers within two days of experiencing symptoms can provide relief and may prevent serious complications.

Major disease outbreaks throughout history

Swine flu, 2009, has killed 86 people and affected possibly 1400 others in Mexico since April 13. There are 20 confirmed cases in five US states and suspected cases in Canada and France, and 10 people have tested positive for influenza A in New Zealand.

SARS, 2003, the World Health Organisation reported 8098 infected cases and 774 deaths from SARS, which was first reported in China then spread to more than two dozen countries in the US, Europe and Asia. There was one confirmed case in Australia.

Avian flu, 1997, killed at least 200 people in Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Romania, China, Russia and Turkey and millions of poultry in Asia, Europe and Africa. The death of a Chinese woman from this virus was recorded earlier this year.

Asian flu, 1957, killed one million people around the world and was thought to have started in China.

Spanish flu pandemic, 1918, led to the deaths of between 20 to 100 million people worldwide and was thought to have originated in the US, spreading as far as the remote Pacific Islands.

Black Death plague, 1340s, killed 75 million people worldwide and was thought to have begun in Asia, spreading to Europe and North Africa.



  1. great read…knew many of the facts..
    but never knew asian flu n spanish flu caused deaths of these many million people…

  2. Hey Arun, lets together make the generation next……Believe me,I’m finding many of my dream qualities in you man. But I’ve very few of them. Especially I’m very week in maitaining Discipline. I used to be influential for a while in my second year or so.But now I guess I know what is right and what is wrong.But with ur friendship I feel like I’m complemented.Infact, its the most important quality needed by a Doctor. My sincere suggetion to u is not to lose those qualities anytime in ur career.If one has discipline nothing is impossible for him.Fortune comes to his feet.The best example is our Music Maestro A.R.Rehman.He reached such heights because he never lost his discipline in his career.Even now he is the same.And now he stands as inspiration for us…….

  3. Thanks for the compliments man…
    But i’m lazy…but nowadays tryin to make up for it but goin thro a lotta books…

  4. Yeah……as u have a lotta time in final year,better don’t miss the chance of going thru some standard text books like Bailey and Love but ofcourse Harrison is a bit difficult to cope up with. If u start serious reading 1 or 2 months before exam,then it wud be a risk with Bailey and Love too.It needs constant reading.To my badluck,I cudn’t read it except for a very few topics.

  5. nice info!!…..:)

    we had airport duty for a day!

  6. Oh Yeah…..thats the advantage of studying in cities esp Bangalore,you know.We wud have exposure to a wide range of information like how they they do Quarantine.I guess,you have SPM posting now….I love SPM although it may be boring.The reason being there we interact with the society and we ‘ll have a scope for reseach-oriented study.

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