You And The Swine Flu: Knowledge That May Save You

With this new strain of influenza running around, properly called Type A H1N1 swine influenza, but more popularly known as the swine flu, I think it would be nice to give people the 411 on the latest medical emergency that’s got the world’s attention.

Swine influenza came from pigs, hence the name, and pigs usually have regular outbreaks of this disease. The problem with it this time is that this strain of influenza has managed to jump the species and went over to us Homo sapiens and cased a bit of havoc.

Pigs don’t have to worry about it because most of them have built-in resistances to the diseases, mostly because of the constant evolutionary exposure to the disease. They like us when we receive the flu: a few chills, sniffles and a bit of bed rest and we’re right as rain. Problem with that is us humans don’t have this resistance to swine flu, mostly because we’re not pigs. The pigs would be in the same boat if a human strain had jumped into the porcine population.

The other problem with it is its virulence. The Center For Disease Control have determined that this strain of swine flu is contagious and can be passed to other people through the normal vectors: the virus can be transmitted when someone touches something that is contaminated and the puts it in his eyes, nose, or mout. It’s even airborne as microscopic droplets can travel through the air when someone sneezes. The CDC, however, is still a bit hazy on some other factors like incubation time and much contact is too much contact.

Another problem is that the swine flu has the same symptoms as regular human flu, just worse by an order of magnitude. High fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue can either mean you’ve been hit by the ordinary human flu and should take the usual cures or maybe you have the swine flu and need to go to the doctor immediately. Personally, it would be better to take no chances and just go to the doctor. Diarrhea and vomiting are the big warning signs though. Death by flue isn’t direct though. It just compounds with other diseases like pneumonia and makes it even worse. It can also kick any existing medical conditions you have like asthma up a notch.

So, the question on your mind now probably is: is there no hope or should I just run to the hills to avoid human contact? Thankfully, you don’t have to go that far. The CDC has recommended the use of several medicines to treat yourself with and to prevent the spread of the disease. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are viral inhibitors that make sure that the virus does not reproduce. More common antiviral drugs that are bought over the counter can also be effective. They make the symptoms milder and help your body heal itself faster. They can also stop some of the higher level complications that can happen when you are infected, if you take them early enough.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. To avoid getting infected, try to avoid close contact with sick people and wash your hands on a regular basis, especially before you eat. If you have the unfrotunate luck of getting sick, isolate yourself and check your symptoms. Immediately consult with your doctor if your sickness persists more than usual.

The swine flu is just the latest in a long line of diseases that have endangered the human race. No matter how frightening it is, it’s still pretty survivable. All you need to have is the right knowledge to win the battle.