Swine Influenza -- commonly known as Swine Flu is a type of infectious disease caused by the Swine Influenza Virus (SIV). Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) or Swine-Origin Influenza Virus (S-OIV) is very common in pigs all over the World (Siegel, 2). The major two types of Swine influenza are influenza C. And Influenza A. Influenza A is further classified into four major classes; H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3 (Stephenson, 7). Swine flu is mostly caused by Influenza A. This influenza is more contagious and dangerous for pigs because a considerable percentage of pigs die from swine flu disease every year. Swine Flu is transmitted from one pig to another in many ways; by aerosols, through direct or indirect interaction, or contact with already infected pigs (Tasian, 8). The sub-types of Influenza A are not as dangerous as H1N1. However, a pig can get infected by more than one influenza viruses at one time (Siegel, 1).
Swine Flu in Humans:
Although swine influenza is a disease of pigs and its viruses can be found in almost all pigs, but it has also puffed up itself in humans. The history of Swine flu dates back to the early years of nineteen twenties when this virus was first detected in pigs. Afterwards, the same virus was detected in humans. However, there are no clear evidences on whether the swine influenza virus was transmitted by pigs to humans, or by humans to pigs. This is because swine influenza virus was quite new in both these creatures (Tasian, 7).
Origin of Swine Flu:
Today, it is believed that pigs were the origin of this virus that caused the humans to be contaminated with it very badly. When swine flu was first detected in a human; it was not a very severe case. But after a few years, it spread all over the European region and brought an inexorable situation for the whole World. The regions which were badly contaminated by the swine flu virus in the past include; Mexico, India, China, Japan, Taiwan, South America, and many European and Asian countries. The most infected area of the World is Mexico where pigs are found in large numbers.
The most recent swine flu of 2009 that infected the humans in several regions was not a virus transmission from pigs to humans; but from humans to humans. In August 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced that swine flu has been completely subjugated and will not affect humans in any part of the World. But the H1N1 virus is still in the air and may cause minor infectious problems in winter season (Tasian, 49).
The most common symptoms of Swine Flu:
The most common symptoms of swine flu include; sore throat, chills, flu, nasal secretions, sneezing, and other respiratory infection, lethargy, diarrhea, pain in muscles, vomiting, headache, high fever, tiredness (fatigue), nausea, hard cough, decreased appetite, etc. (Stephenson, 26). From these symptoms, sore throat, flu, headache, respiratory infections, and high fever are more common and have been observed in almost every swine flu infected human. The remaining symptoms; hard cough, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and decreased appetite are less common and were only observed in highly contaminated individuals.
Is Swine Flu same as seasonal flu?
The infection caused by swine influenza virus is similar to seasonal flu and the infected human does not generally show any special symptoms, weakness, or illness except very minor upper respiratory tract infections (Stephenson, 38). But if this infection is severe, it can turn into fatal pneumonia. There have been reported numerous fatalities due to swine influenza. The biggest reason which has made it so dangerous is the carelessness of humans while they closely interact with pigs.
The biggest victim of Swine Flu -- Youngsters:
Swine flu does not infect every age group with the same sternness, severity, and complexity; its biggest victims have always been the young adults. This thing can be evidenced from the fact that most of the fatalities caused by swine flu in Mexico, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, U.S.A, and many European countries were of youngsters (Tanaka, Niki, & Kokaze, 121).
Every individual is equally exposed to swine flu when it spreads in the air, but some people may have a high degree of risk towards this virus. This high-risk group includes; heart, liver, and kidney disease patients, neurological disease patients, pregnant women, and the people over the age of 60.
Diagnostics for Swine Flu infected humans:
As swine flu has very common and minor symptoms, it is diagnosed just as the way a common fever and respiratory tract infections are treated and diagnosed. First of all, the infected individual is asked to have some lab tests. These tests are quite simple and the purpose is just to identify whether he or she is contaminated by swine flu or the common seasonal flu. One of the most common and successful tests is nasopharyngeal swab test. After this test, doctors come to know the type of virus which has infected the patient. If the results show that the patient is infected by Influenza A, it means he is the victim of swine flu.
The Role of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the diagnostics of Swine Flu:
Although this test is very effective in finding out the exact cause of infection to a human body, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not approved it as a reliable test for H1N1 virus detection. It has developed some other tests but they are very expensive and are only available for military personnel in the United States.
Availability of doctors, specialists, laboratories, and diagnostic centers:
Swine flu was detected many decades ago, but its specialist doctors and physicians are not available in every hospital, clinic, or diagnostic center. Therefore, swine flu patients face many difficulties in finding them exactly when they are needed. Doctors have also realized this thing and are now focusing more on training young doctors in this specific field of diagnostics and medicine. To encounter the issue of limited number of laboratories, doctors now send samples to specialized laboratories and diagnostic centers for testing. In this way, every individual can get timely treatment for his swine flu infection if detected effectively.
Effective Treatments for Swine Flu:
Vaccination is the best treatment for H1N1 swine influenza. The top recognized medical research laboratories of the World have produced very effective vaccines to treat the swine flu affected individuals. These vaccines are available in many forms, but the most commonly recommended and prescribed vaccine by the approved doctors is the nasal spray vaccine. This is the easiest way of treatment for swine flu infected people of all ages; from a toddling child to an old man except pregnant ladies (Tasian, 42).
Another form of vaccine is available in injections that can also be recommended to all age groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also approve these vaccines after strict laboratory tests undertaken in the supervision of specialized doctors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States also recommends the use of vaccines for the treatment of swine flu.
In addition to vaccination, swine flu is also treated using some antiviral agents. The two CDC approved antiviral agents are zanamivir (e.g. Relenza) and oseltamivir (e.g. Tamiflu). These agents are used to treat the most dangerous type of Influenza A virus; the H1N1 virus (Stooker, 145). Moreover, CDC recommends the real time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) as an effective treatment for swine flu. This laboratory technique is used to study the genomes of viruses and is very effective for the detection of Influenza A (Tanaka, Niki, Kokaze, 123).
These all are the major treatments which are recommended by CDC to be given to the Swine flu infected patients, but they strongly recommend that such patients must also be treated for pneumonia and seasonal flu at the same time. This is because swine flu may turn into its severe form if the patient does not quickly recover himself from seasonal infections (Stooker, 145).
What should be done to avoid Swine Influenza if vaccines or injections are not available?
Precautionary measures for Swine Flu:
Swine flu spreads very rapidly if it contacts the mucus membranes in the human body. If vaccination, spray, or injections are not available, the best way to avoid swine flu from further contamination is to wear surgical mask. This mask will prevent the droplets from coughs and sneezes from splitting into the air and causing the virus to grow (McPhee & Papadakis, 214). Following are some precautionary measures which are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to those individuals who are either living in the swine flu infected regions or they are themselves attacked by this virus:
One should always keep his hands clean; they are the biggest medium of transmission of such infectious viruses from one…