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Swine Flu Information and Answers on H1N1 Virus

Outline: Questions and answers relating to the recent outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and the United States.

Main Digest

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the declaration was a precautionary measure, and did not mean that the threat posed by the outbreak was worsening.

News just to hand states the U.S. has Declared a Public Health Emergency in Response to Swine Flu.

Map of Latest H1N1 Swine Flu Outbreak Cases and Statistics

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the declaration was a precautionary measure, and did not mean that the threat posed by the outbreak was worsening. But, the move allows federal and state governments easier access to flu tests and medications.. This is standard operating procedure, and allows us to free up federal, state and local agencies and their resources for prevention and mitigation...

US President Barack Obama is monitoring the swine flu outbreak closely and has ordered a "very active, aggressive, and coordinated response", White House homeland security adviser John Brennan said. The Government intended to release a quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million doses of the Tamiflu and Relenza anti-viral drugs.

Authorities across the Asia-Pacific region, which has in recent years been at the forefront of the SARS and bird flu epidemics, stepped up checks at airports and urged the public to be on guard for symptoms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the situation as a "public health emergency of international concern" and asked countries around the world to "intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia". It has previously given warning the highly-lethal strain could create global swine flu pandemics similar to the 1918 and 1976 swine flu epidemics.

Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified.

Swine Flu Questions and Answers

Is this a new kind of swine flu

Yes. The CDC reports that the virus in these latest cases is a never-before-seen mixture of viruses typical among pigs, birds and humans. The influenza A H1N1 virus contains DNA typical to avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses. Although it's called swine flu, this new strain is not infecting pigs and has never been seen in pigs.

How many swine flu viruses are there

Over the years, several different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. To date, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs, these are: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently reported influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

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 degree F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

I got the flu shot this year. Am I protected

No. H1N1 swine flu viruses are very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.

What are signs of swine flu in pigs

Signs of swine flu in pigs can include sudden onset of fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed.

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.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans

There is a swine flu vaccine for pigs but not for humans. There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses. The virus from the most recent U.S. swine flu cases appeared to be resistant to amantadine and rimantadine but were susceptible to zanamivir and oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

If an influenza virus changes and becomes a new strain against which people have little or no immunity, and this new strain is easily spread from person to person, many people around the world could become ill and die.

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