Swine Flu
People wear face masks on a train in Mexico. The country has been hit hard by the Swine Flu. Photo courtesy Eneas on Flickr.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the Swine Flu in the news. The Swine flu is a type of Influenza (flu virus) that normally effects pigs. But, lately, it has been effecting people in Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. 

cdc swine flu cases

Health officials in many countries are on high alert for the Swine Flu, mainly to whether or not people have this virus. They’re preparing to battle an outbreak and getting ready in case it turns into an epidemic. But how do you really know if you have or someone you know has been infected with the Swine Flu? Here is how to know if you have the Swine Flu.

According to officials, there really is only one way to know for certain whether or not someone is infected with the Swine Flu: you have to get tested. Officials need to determine if you have the virus by looking at it under a microsope. But that does not mean that there are not symptoms that you can identify.

What is the Swine Flu?

According to the CDC, Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. It regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

The CDC has some additional helpful information about the Swine Flu:

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

How does swine flu spread?

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

The CDC recommends routine precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases: wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay at home and limit contact with others.

So, what are the symptoms of the Swine Flu:

1. Fever

2. Lethargy (in other words, having fatigue (also called exhaustion, lethargy, languidness, languor, lassitude, and listlessness). You’re tired.

3. Lack of appetite. You’re not really interesting in eating much.

4. Cough. You’ve got a cough that you just can’t seem to get rid of.

5. Runny nose

6. Sore throat

7. Nausea and feeling dizzy. Many people who have the Swine Flu have reportedly been feeling dizzy.

8. Vomiting

9. Diarrhea

What do you need to do if you think you have the Swine Flu? You need to see a doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Mexican virus samples match the U.S. virus. The Swine Fl virus is a mix of human virus, bird virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.  Apparently there are four different drugs approved in the USA to treat the flu, but the new Swine Flu virus has shown resistance to the two oldest. The CDC recommends the use of the flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

Currently, the best prevention for the Swine Flu is to take routine precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases: wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay at home and limit contact with others. If you must go out or you are worried that you might catch the Swine Flu or other airborne ailment, you might want to purchase a mask to wear. Even a basic mask will help, but we recommend a NIOSH approved respirator surgical mask for proper infection control.