H1N1 homepage

H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Why should we care about H1N1?

h1n1 pandemic

H1N1 medical alert

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a swine flu (H1N1 influenza) pandemic which caused many casualties and public panic worldwide. However, with swift response of health care professionals and advancing scientific knowledge, the influenza H1N1 pandemic was managed and was declared in August 2010 to be finally over.

However, the occurrence of swine flu still remains as a seasonal H1N1 flu virus, and thus happens endemically with humans and pigs alike. With the circulation of flu vaccines and its easy accessibility in many health care facilities, basic information about the swine influenza H1N1 is still an important matter to discuss for the benefit of the general public.

Etiology of H1N1 Swine Flu

h1n1 swine flu

Swine Flu

Swine flu is called as it is because it is a common type of viral infection that normally occurs with pigs. It is otherwise known as pig influenza, hog flu, or pig flu.

However, due to the evolving times, the swine flu virus has found its way to infect humans too. It is important to note that despite being a common infection for pigs, humans cannot get the H1N1 virus from properly handled pork products.

The term H1N1 pertains to the subtype of influenza virus strains.

What are the swine flu symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of H1N1 swine flu is more or less just the same as those with all other types of flu.

The symptoms include, but not limited to:

  • Fever with a body temperature higher than 100°F. However, not all patients with influenza manifest fever.
  • Body malaise, or generalized body weakness.
  • Colds and runny nose.
  • Cough or sore throat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Chills.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting, but more manifested by children as a way to compensate for the expectoration of the cough phlegm.

In pigs, the symptoms include fever, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, abortion, and weight loss.

symptoms of h1n1

symptoms of swine flu

How is influenza H1N1 diagnosed?

The H1N1 symptoms can easily be mistaken for signs and symptoms of a common cold. However, swine flu symptoms remain worse than that of common colds.

However, to determine which is which, your doctor might order a culture and sensitivity test. This will give you an idea if the symptoms you are feeling are only due to common colds, or if it has already evolved to H1N1 virus.

In some cases, a real time RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) may be done in order to know the genomes of the virus strain.

How is H1N1 swine flu treated?

swine flu vaccine

h1n1 vaccination

If you are diagnosed with H1N1, you may be treated with or without medications. In the United States, the usual anti-viral medications ordered for H1N1 virus strains are oseltamir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). This is to get to the root of the problem, which is to kill the source of infection, the H1N1 virus. It is also important to note that the antiviral medications work best when taken on the first 2 days of the occurrence of the sickness.

For a treatment course without the use of medications, or with minimal use, you may opt to manage the swine flu symptomatically:

  • Fever and chills – You may want to take over the counter anti-pyretic medications to manage the fever, or use tepid sponge baths and/or cold damp wash cloths on your forehead, arms, neck, and leg to lower down your body temperature.
  • Cough and Colds – Increasing your intake of oral fluids may be very beneficial if you manifest with cough and colds. This is to liquefy your secretions for easier expectoration, and also to relieve dehydration in relation to the increased body temperature.
  • Sore Throat- You may want to gargle with saline water (a glass of water with 1 pinch of salt) to relieve the sore throat. Or you may want to buy over the counter lozenges.
  • Stuffy or runny nose – For stuffy nose, you may want to place a humidifier in your room to help ease breathing. An essence of eucalyptus oil in your room can also be very soothing both for stuffy and runny noses.
  • Generalized body weakness – Bed rest is essentially important. Get plenty of rest and enough sleep. This can help you rejuvenate your body and help you get better.

What is the mode of transmission of influenza H1N1?

swine flu transmission

h1n1 transmitter molecules

H1N1 virus can generally be spread through airborne of droplet transmission. A person with swine flu can be contagious when he coughs, sneezes, or produce droplets that may land on another person’s open surfaces, such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Improper handling and cooking of pork products from swine infested with the H1N1 virus can also be a way to get the illness.

What could go wrong with influenza H1N1?

Influenza H1N1 can generally be managed at home. However, if you feel and manifest the following H1N1 symptoms that should prompt you to see a health care provider as soon as possible:

  • Respiratory Failure – The most common cause of mortality with H1N1 patients is respiratory failure. Early manifestations include increased respiratory rate. Late symptoms include arterial blood gas abnormalities that can be fatal if not prompted.
  • Sepsis – The H1N1 virus can also evolve to a bacterial infection, and eventually may result to sepsis. Sepsis is an infection that has spread throughout the body and can also be fatal if not treated right away.
  • Convulsions- This may arise from a very high fever. To prevent the occurrence, be sure to keep the room of dim and quiet so as not to stimulate convulsions. If it does occur, be sure to put the patient on a flat surface, preferably the floor, and protect the patient’s head by turning it to the side. Never try to restrain the patient as this may cause more damage than help.
  • Dehydration – As the body temperature rises, your body’s fluid levels may become depleted and thus resulting to dehydration. In small children, the diarrhea and vomiting are commonly manifested, and can also lead to dehydration.

How is influenza H1N1 prevented?

swine flu vaccine

vaccination is the key to prevention

Since 2010, the H1N1 swine flu is already considered a seasonal flu vaccine. Flu vaccines can definitely help prevent the H1N1 from occurring, but it is important to note to take ant-flu shots yearl