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Swine Flu : Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment

What is swine flu

Swine-flu  is also called as swine influenza, pig flu and hog flu. It is mainly known as H1N1 virus flu. It was detected in 2009. It is a disease of pigs and in rare cases can be transmitted to humans. It is a very contagious,respiratory disease caused by one of many influenza A viruses.

There are 3 subtypes of the virus-

H1N2, H3N1 and H3N2.

The 2009 outbreak was H1N1 subtype.

Normally humans are not affected, only they catch the disease when they are in direct contact with pigs. It does not spread from pigs to humans.


Humans get infected by consuming infected pig meat or direct contact with infected swine .Human to human infection spreads when people share clothes and other belongings of an infected person.Mode of transfer is via air and thus virus becomes contagious.


It gets transmitted like the seasonal flu.When an H1N1 afflicted person sneezes or coughs, the virus gets sprayed as tiny droplets in the air and any human coming in contact with these droplets catches the disease.The symptoms will be seen only after 7 days of exposure. In children the symptoms can only be seen after 10 days of exposure.


This is about 7 days but there is no certainty about the incubation period.


Most people  start showing symptoms within a day, there is persistent cough,malaise ,runny nose,sore throat, fever, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Fever may go upto 103F,lingering headache,prolonged tiredness, dry,persistent cough,chilly palms and soles ,muscular pain,joint pain,blocked nose, disturbed sleep all are symptoms of the disease. Sometimes symptoms can become severe and may require hospitalization. Pregnant women, senior citizens and people with a weak immune system are at a greater risk of complications.


Prevention is better than cure.So the best way to prevent the disease is

Washing hands with liquid soap and warm water.

Clean all surfaces used by an infected person.

Cover mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing.

Don’t eat bacon ,ham and pork.

Getting oneself vaccinated against H1N1.

Vaccination is for people above 60 yrs, pregnant ladies,adults and kids with underlying health condition,people with weak immune system and overweight people.

The right time for vaccination is autumn (September to November)This is an annual vaccination. Maintaining good hygiene in the house can prevent against the disease.


It is diagnosed with a throat and nasal swab.


The patient is isolated and treated with two antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza. A Swine-flu vaccine is available and should be taken every year as strains of virus keep changing. It is known as the quadrivalent flu vaccine.

The person should be confined to the house, tissues should be used while coughing and sneezing, hand sanitizers are a must and the patient’s belongings shouldn’t be shared. Till the person doesn’t recoup fully he or she shouldn’t come out of the house.

Dr Preeti Talwar

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