Top Seven Facts About Swine Flu
Swine flu was a common disease known only to affect pigs until recently. Human infection and death as a result of swine flu was reported only very rarely, mostly affecting people living with pigs. But this rare phenomenon became an epidemic around April 2009. This article contains some must-know facts about the swine flu.
- The virus is believed to have originated in pigs from Asia. However, the first reported case of the disease was from Mexico.
- The virus typically spreads through coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. Symptoms last up to a week and are similar to those of the seasonal flu. They include headache, chills, cough, fever, loss of appetite, aches, fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, throat irritation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- When a virus spreads in an epidemic its severity is measured in terms of the germ’s generation time, which is the time required for the number of infections to double in size. Studies of the H1N1 flu infections reveal that the generation time for acute respiratory illness (ARI) is 2.0-3.1 days and for influenza like illness (ILI) it is 2.4-3.1 days.
- The number of reported cases per 100,000 people is highest among people in the 5 years to 24 years of age group (26.7 per 100,000). The next age-group is 0 to 4 years, with a case rate of 22.9 per 100,000 people.
- The H1N1 flu infection rate is lowest in people 65 years and older.
- The number of deaths is highest among people 25 to 49 years of age (39%), followed by people 50 to 64 years of age (25%) and people 5 to 24 years of age (16%).
- Despite widespread influenza surveillance in humans, the lack of systematic swine surveillance allowed for the undetected persistence and evolution of this potentially pandemic virus.
If you feel like you are developing flu symptoms, don’t wait to see if it will just go away. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner and make an appointment.