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Swine Flu: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Team AckoFeb 21, 2023

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,51,700 to 5,75,400 global deaths due to Swine Flu in the H1N1 pandemic that began in 2009. Although the World Health Organisation declared that this pandemic ended in 2010, the virus continues to be transmitted as seasonal flu. It results in diseases, hospitalisation, and fatalities every year around the world. This article highlights Swine Flu’s history, symptoms, diagnosis, causes, treatment and prevention methods so that you are aware of this disease and can take timely action. 

Swine Flu



What is Swine Flu?

The H1N1 strain of the Swine Flu virus is an example of an influenza virus infection. Because the virus causing it is identical to one that affects pigs, it is known as "Swine Flu". Pigs who are infected with the virus develop lung disease. In humans, the H1N1 virus also leads to lung infection.

How did the Swine Flu infections begin?

A new H1N1 strain was identified in April 2009 in the United States. The virus soon spread throughout the United States of America and the rest of the world. It spread faster because it was a novel strain of the influenza virus. While adults were somewhat immune to it, the virus affected children severely. The earlier variant of H1N1 might have provided adults with the resistance power to fight the new virus. Yet there were around 1,50,000 global deaths from Swine Flu in the next few years.

How does Swine Flu spread?

Swine Flu spreads in the same manner as the seasonal flu. The virus is released into the air through small drops when infected individuals cough or sneeze. You can contract H1N1 Swine Flu if you come into contact with these drops. For example, you come in contact with items that have droplets of Swine Flu from an infected person, like door handles, toys, elevator buttons, etc. 

People who have it can transmit it up to 7 days after being ill and up to 1 day before showing any symptoms. Children can spread germs for up to 10 days. 

Animal-to-human transmission is uncommon since people who are exposed to pigs frequently produce antibodies to the human flu in their blood. So, you might be interested in learning what gave rise to the human Swine Flu. Simply said, it was discovered after careful investigation that the subtype H1N1 is highly contagious and has a higher transmission rate among people.

What are the symptoms of Swine Flu?

The chances of pigs dying from Swine Flu are relatively low, at about 1 to 4%. However, it has an impact on their size and growth, which causes farmers to lose a lot of money. Pigs also contain receptors for both avian and mammalian influenza viruses, which causes the virus to mutate into several forms. In humans, Swine Flu may cause different symptoms in adults compared to babies or small children. The following table lists them both.

Swine Flu symptoms in adults Swine Flu symptoms in children
Sore throat Breathing issues
Bodyache Less fluid consumption
Fever Fever
Cough Rashes
Headache Confusion
Muscle pain

Along with other symptoms, some patients in the 2009 outbreak also reported having vomiting and diarrhoea. When risks are taken into account, health issues, including respiratory failure, pneumonia, high fever, dehydration, kidney failure, neurological issues, and electrolyte imbalance, can be fatal. The diagnosis of the Swine Flu is challenging because the symptoms mentioned above resemble those of influenza.

How to diagnose Swine Flu?

Doctors will collect respiratory fluid from their patients to establish a lab diagnosis of the Swine Flu. Swab examinations of the nose and throat will be used to collect the fluids. Genetic methods are used in the laboratory during sample analysis. 

According to the CDC, real-time PCR is the recommended diagnostic method for Swine Flu. Using commercially available RNA virus-preserving filter-paper cards is another method of identifying the Swine Flu virus. This method correctly distinguishes the novel Swine Flu virus from seasonal Influenza. Additionally, several other tests, such as those conducted close to patients' points of care, are still in the development stage.

Due to their high probability of false negatives and potential for public health danger, certain procedures, such as rapid influenza tests that produce answers in under 30 minutes, are not advised. Thus, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new test called the CDC Influenza 2009 A (H1N1) pdm Real-Time RT-PCR Panel (IVD), which will replace the traditional RT-PCR tests as it uses Molecular Biology Techniques to detect the Influenza A virus, especially the new H1N1 strain of the 2009 pandemic. The results of this test are produced in four hours and are 96% accurate. 

What is the ideal treatment for Swine Flu?

Most patients may not need medical treatment. However, this depends upon the severity of the infection. If you get infected by Swine Flu, you must manage symptoms and quarantine yourself for at least ten days. Patients who are at high risk may be given oral medications. But there is a risk of the virus becoming resistant to the given antiviral medicines. 

People who are healthy may be able to fight the virus without depending upon medical treatment. If you are a swineherd, consider changing the tending strategy and vaccinating the pigs. There are many commercial vaccines on the market, including one for the most recent variant of the 2009 virus.

The main goal of Swine Flu treatment is to minimise symptoms, including fever, weakness, cough, etc. One strategy for combating the Swine Flu virus is by taking the prescribed antiviral and antibacterial medications. The 2009 H1N1 strain, however, has shown tolerance to medications. It is therefore recommended that you wait for your body to fight off the infection and heal. However, you must seek medical attention in the event of a severe infection.

Who is at risk of Swine Flu?

The following people are at a high risk of Swine Flu infection as compared to others.

  • Adults over the age of 65.

  • Small children (under the age of five).

  • Some teenagers and children who have been taking aspirin as a part of an ongoing treatment.

  • Patients with immune-deficiency diseases, such as AIDS.

  • Pregnant women.

  • People suffering from health issues like asthma, diabetes, neuromuscular disease, heart disease, etc.

How to prevent Swine Flu?

Vaccination is the best defence against the swine influenza virus. The prevention of this virus involves three steps: prevention in pigs, prevention of transfer to humans, and prevention of spreading the virus within people.

You can most effectively prevent Swine Flu within pigs through vaccination, herd management, and farm management. However, vaccination has grown more challenging due to the evolution of the viral strain. It is doubtful that the viruses will remain in the surroundings for more than two weeks. Therefore, it is crucial to use disinfectants correctly and regulate the temperature in farms. Animals should be quarantined if they are infected.

Pigs are susceptible to both the avian and mammalian strains of the influenza virus, which leads to the emergence of novel strains and creates a host of antigenic changes. Even though it is rare that pigs can transmit the disease to people, handling diseased animals is best done while wearing a mask and sanitising after tending to a herd.

People can stop the spread of this disease by washing their hands frequently with soap and water. This is similar to the precautions people take against COVID-19. Avoid touching your lips, eyes, or nose. Any surface, especially your hands, can become infected with the virus.

Avoid going to work or school if you contract Swine Flu to contain the spread. Also, during the flu season, stay away from large gatherings.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions and answers about Swine Flu.

The following are some common questions and answers about Swine Flu Virus.


How long does it take to cure Swine Flu?

The symptoms are similar to those of other kinds of common flu. They typically don't last more than a week and are manageable. But like with all flu strains, some people are more susceptible to developing a severe illness, especially those who already have underlying medical issues.

Is isolation necessary for Swine Flu patients?

Patients who experience flu-like symptoms (fever and a cough or sore throat) should be strongly advised to stay at home for at least 24 hours after their symptoms have subsided or for seven days, whichever is longer.

Are there any chances of infection spreading to other people after treatment?

The H1N1 infectious phase lasts from one day before symptoms appear to nearly a week after symptoms appear in people who recover on their own. Patients, especially children and extremely ill adults may release some infectious viruses for a few weeks after treatment.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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