Wednesday, September 16, 2009

H1n1 (swine) Influenza Guide: swine flu

Swine influenza is flu virus usually found in pigs. The virus occasionally changes (mutates) and becomes infectious in humans. When this happens, the disease becomes a concern to humans, who have little or no immunity against it. This means the virus has the potential to spread quickly around the world. It also may be more difficult to treat than the usual, seasonal human flu viruses.

Causes, Incidence, And Risk Factors
In the spring of 2009, cases of human infection with H1N1 flu were confirmed in Mexico, the United States, and many countries around the world. The H1N1 flu virus is contagious and can spread from human to human. At this time, it is unknown how easily it can spread between people. It is known that flu viruses can spread from pigs to people, and from people to pigs. However, you CANNOT get H1N1 flu virus from eating pork.
Human-to-human infection with the H1N1 flu virus likely occurs the same way as seasonal flu, when an infected person coughs or sneezes into air that others breathe in. People may also get infected by touching something with the virus on it, such as a door knob or counter, and then touching their mouth or nose.

Symptoms of H1N1 flu infection in humans are similar to classic flu-like symptoms, which might include:
* Fever above 100.4 °F
* Cough
* Sore throat
* Headache
* Chills
* Muscle aches
* Diarrhea
* Vomiting
Signs And Tests
If you think you have been exposed to H1N1 influenza, call your health care provider before your visit. This will give the staff a chance to take proper precautions to protect them and other patients during your office visit. If the H1N1 flu becomes widespread, there will be little need to continue testing people, so your health care provider may decide not to test for the flu virus.
Your doctor may perform the following physical exam:
* Auscultation (to detect abnormal breath sounds)
* Chest x-ray
Your doctor can test for the H1N1 flu virus using a nasopharyngeal swab (a swab of the back of the inside of your nose), or grow it in a culture. However, this will likely happen only if:
* You are at high risk for flu complications.
* You are very sick.
Most people who get H1N1 flu will likely recover without needing medical care. Doctors, however, can prescribe antiviral drugs to treat people who become very sick with the flu or are at high risk for flu complications. The CDC currently identifies the following people as high risk:
* Children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than age 2
* Adults 65 years of age and older
* People with:
o Chronic lung (including asthma) or heart conditions (except hypertension)
o Kidney, liver, neurologic, and neuromuscular conditions
o Blood disorders (including sickle cell disease)
o Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
o An immune system that does not work well, such as AIDS patients or cancer patients receiving chemotherapy

Other high risk people include:
* Pregnant women
* Anyone younger than 19 years of age receiving long-term aspirin therapy
* Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

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