It’s been a few months since we first heard about swine flu. I know I wasn’t the only one who wondered if I could get the disease from eating pork chops at dinner time. However, as the virus has spread more information about it has become available. As a matter of fact it seems the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, giving us information overload now, making it difficult to get down to the basics of the H1N1 virus.
First off, let’s make it clear: swine flu does not come from eating pork products; it is not a foodborne illness. The H1N1 virus got its nickname “swine flu” because when it was first discovered scientists thought the scientific makeup of the virus resembled flu viruses commonly found in North American pigs. These similarities have since been proven minimal.
H1N1 was first confirmed in the United States in Texas. It has since been diagnosed across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States has reported the largest number of cases worldwide. The growth of this virus, not the potential dangers of it, led the World Health Organization to declare it a pandemic in early June.
Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to other flu strains and include fever, nausea, coughing, runny nose, body aches, chills, diarrhea, and fatigue. While it resembles seasonal flu in some ways, officials are currently stating that the H1N1 doesn’t have the same risk of complications in older adults. They are even looking into the possibility that adults over 60 may have natural antibodies to the H1N1 virus.
Despite the growing number of diagnosed cases of H1N1, many of them are able to be successfully treated without medical intervention. Fear of contracting the virus is not necessary. Simple preventative measures can help lower your chances of getting the virus and spreading it to others.
Like other contagious illnesses, H1N1 is passed from person to person. Germs released when an infected person coughs or sneezes can be carried to others or can be picked up when you touch infected areas. Simple frequent hand washing can significantly reduce your risk.
Summer camps are a current breeding ground for the illness, offering counselors a quick study in the management and prevention of illnesses such as this. Campers suffering from the H1N1 virus are immediately quarantined and treated. Some camps have shown that a preventative dose of Tamiflu is also combating the spread.
The best advice when it comes to H1N1 is to see a doctor if you experiencing flu symptoms. Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer when you will be out and about. Crowded places like daycares and schools are frequently hit hard by these types of outbreaks so be vigilant with your children as well. For good information about the disease as it grows and develops, your best bet is to stick with agencies like the CDC and WHO.