An Explanation about H1N1 Virus
Swine Flu Basics Information
There has been much ado about Swine Flu or the H1N1 virus. From the hype about the vaccine to the miscalculations of swine flu casualties, it has been difficult to find the truth about the disease.
The truth is that the name swine flu is not a new illness for a flu strain, yet this particular strain of the virus is. In addition, the vaccine created to prevent this particular flu underwent the same testing that the traditional flu shots undergo. Another truth is that there is no cure for the swine flu—it must run its course like its seasonal counterpart. In addition, swine flu does not come from pork.
With that out of the way, here is some useful information about swine flu that may you understand just what this virus really is.
What is the Swine Flu?
It is a strain of the influenza virus that has genetic material in common with viruses found not only pigs in Europe and Asia, but also birds and humans. Because of these multiple sources, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls this a quadruple reassortant virus.
Swine flu was first discovered in April of 2009. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it in June 2009. It is spread through human to human contact, in the form of unprotected (mouth uncovered) sneezing and coughing as well as transferring the virus from a surface like a doorknob by touch. The unwashed hand then transmits the virus by touching the eyes, mouth, or nose.
Swine Flu History
Although the 2009 strain of swine flu was a new one, the name “swine flu” has quite a history. In fact, a more deadly early strain that appeared in 1918 is a descendant of the current H1N1 or swine flu. At that time, there was no previous flu viruses made up of both bird and swine genetic materials. In fact, the CDC writes that “many questioned whether such an explosively fatal disease could be influenza at all”.
Strains of this original H1N1 disease has cropped up influenza epidemics in 1957, 1977 and even 2006. The CDC has been studying this hybrid virus and the strains it produced in an effort to gain more understanding. Some researchers believe that the key is the original H1N1 virus, which hit the world in three waves over the spring, summer and winter of 1918 and 1919.
Another notable swine flu epidemic took place in 1977. The flu that year was widespread, but it was the vaccine that made the news. That year, according to Washington Post reporter David Brown, over 400 of the 43 million people vaccinated contracted Guillian Barre Syndrome or GBS. Twenty-five of those with GBS died of the illness. GBS causes muscle weakness and eventually paralysis.
Testing on the vaccine found that the vaccine used was not contaminated. Otherwise, the WHO say that the cause of the 1976-77 reaction to the vaccine is limited to that particular vaccine. Extra steps have been taken to ensure that the 2009 vaccine does not have the same effects.
Treating a Swine Flu Outbreak in Your Home
The signs of contracting swine flu are described by the CDC as fever, cough, body aches, headache, diarrhea, sore throat, vomiting and chills. Some people experience all of these symptoms; others only come down with a few.
Swine is treated like its seasonal counterparts, with rest and no contact with the public. Stay at home until your fever is gone for 24 hours. The fever must be maintained without medications. Wash your hands often and cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
Seek emergency medical care if your fever is more than 103 and does not respond to medications. Also go immediately to the hospital if you experience trouble breathing, blue coloring in the skin, rash, abdominal pain and pressure, disorientation, unrelenting vomiting.
Swine Flu Prevention
The only way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands several times a day and get the swine flu vaccine. Some people wore masks during flu outbreaks to prevent transmission from stray coughing and sneezing droplets. However, the swine flu vaccine is a less conspicuous way to prevent coming down with the flu.
The injected swine flu vaccine is comprised of an inactive version of the virus. The nasal spray vaccine is made from a live but weakened version of the virus. Although the vaccines may cause lfu-like symptoms, according to WHO, the swine flu virus cannot develop from the dead or weakened viruses in the vaccine.
Cases of people who have been vaccinated, but still contract the flu are not related to the vaccine itself. These people usually contract the virus within two weeks of getting their vaccine—before the vaccine has created full immunity within the body. In addition, immunity depends on the body receiving the vaccine. Not every body will develop immunity strong enough to overcome the virus. Vaccinated individuals can also catch the seasonal flu strains, as the swine flu vaccine does not work on seasonal flu strains.