HIGHLIGHTS

Open
Grocery Coupons

Grocery Coupons

Members can print free savings coupons

Brain Health Center

Brain Health Center

Learn how to live smart and stay sharp

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Members save on e-
readers and tablets

Caring for loved ones?

Caring for loved ones?

Find the resources you need

HEALTH ENCYCLOPEDIA

Diseases & Conditions A - Z
powered by healthline

Swine Flu

What Is Swine Flu?

Swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, made headlines in 2009 when it was declared a pandemic (Dandagi & Byahatti, 2011). Pandemics are contagious diseases affecting people throughout the world or on multiple continents at the same time. H1N1 has already been seen in 74 countries across the globe. (Dandagi & Byahatti, 2011).

H1N1 is highly contagious, allowing it to spread quickly from person to person. A simple sneeze may cause thousands of germs to spread through the air. The virus can linger on tables and surface areas like door knobs, waiting to be picked up.

The swine flu causes many symptoms similar to regular influenza. Diagnosis can be made by testing a swab of mucus from the nose or throat. For those who have swine flu, the oral drug Tamiflu is recommended.

Injection and nasal spray vaccinations are available to prevent swine flu. The best means of dealing with swine flu is to prevent it. Hand sanitization is important to stop the spread of the virus, and staying away from infected individuals will help stop person-to-person transmission.

Risk Factors for Swine Flu

Swine flu is unusual because it does not target the same age group as the rhinovirus (typical flu). The disease focuses on young adults. This is unusual because most flu viruses attack those who are elderly or very young. Some form of immunity to swine flu may exist in the elderly due to previous flu exposures.

Other risk factors for swine flu include:

  • compromised immune system (from a disease such as AIDS)
  • pregnancy
  • past history of infections

Cause of Swine Flu

The swine flu is caused by a strain of influenza virus that usually only infects pigs. Unlike typhus, which can be transmitted by lice or ticks, the main transmission is not from pigs to people, but rather from person to person.

Swine flu is very contagious. The disease is spread through saliva and mucus particles. People may spread them by:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • touching a germ-covered surface and then touching their eyes or nose

Symptoms of Swine Flu

The symptoms of swine flu are very much like those of regular influenza. They include:

  • chills
  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat

Diagnosing Swine Flu

A diagnosis is made by sampling fluid from those with swine flu. To take a sample, a doctor or nurse may take a swab of the nose or throat.

The swab will be analyzed using various genetic and laboratory techniques to identify the specific type of virus.

Treating Swine Flu

As of 2009, the CDC has recommended healthcare workers in contact with swine flu or suspected swine flu patients should take precautions. Precautions against infection include:

  • wearing gloves and/or gowns
  • using eye protection
  • wearing face masks

In known cases of swine flu, patients should be isolated to prevent the spread of H1N1.

During the swine flu pandemic, scientists were able to produce a vaccine. The vaccine may be given through an injection or nasal spray.

Side effects are minor and may include:

  • fever
  • aches
  • mild soreness at the injection site

The oral drug (Tamiflu) is the current recommended medication for swine flu. Oseltamivir, whose trade name is Tamiflu, is an antiviral drug used to treat influenza infections. This drug, or sometimes zanamivir (Relenza), aren’t used as a preventive measure for swine flu, but are used as treatment if someone has been exposed in the last 48 hours to swine flu, or is suspected of having swine flu. The vaccine is a preventive measure.

Outlook for Swine Flu

Severe cases of swine flu can be fatal. Most fatal cases are in those with underlying conditions, such as HIV/AIDS. The majority of people with swine flu recover and can anticipate a normal life expectancy.

Preventing Swine Flu

Easy ways to prevent swine flu (in addition to being vaccinated) include:

  • washing hands frequently with soap or hand sanitizer
  • not touching your nose, mouth, or eyes because the virus can survive on telephones, tabletops, etc.
  • staying home from work or school if you are ill to keep others healthy
  • avoiding large gatherings when swine flu is in season. Flu season shifts a little bit from year to year, but in the United States it generally peaks in January, although it often starts in October and runs until as late as May. It is possible to get the flu year-round.

Content licensed from:

Written by: Lydia Krause
Medically reviewed : George Krucik, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
health
TOOLS
Symptom Search
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Drug Interaction Checker
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Pill Identifier
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Drugs A-Z
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.

 

 

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

everyday savings center membership benefits aarp

Members save from top retailers online at the Everyday Savings Center powered by NextJump.

Member Benefits Discounts Tires Sears

Members get $13.50 off oil changes Tues-Thurs at Sears Auto Center.

AARP Real Pad Tablet

Go Mobile with RealPad. Connect, play and share plus free 24/7 live customer support.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

AARP FIGHTS FOR YOU
ADVOCACY & PROGRAMS

African American, Asian Community Page

AARP In Your Corner

Visit Black Community, Español  and Asian Community pages.

AARP Drivers Safety logo

Driver Safety Program

Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp. 

Create the Good

Create The Good 

Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood. 

AARP Drive to End Hunger Logo

Drive to End Hunger

NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation. 

 

Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid MasterCard

AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.