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What is Swine Flu and how can humans catch it?
Souce: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, April 26, 2009
What is swine influenza?
Swine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease of pigs. The disease is commonly seen in North and South America, Asia and Europe. Illness is cause by type A Influenza viruses, which also affect a range of other animals, as well as humans.
Are humans affected by swine influenza?
Yes, but human cases of swine influenza are normally uncommon. Most often, cases involve people who have had close contact with pigs, such as farmers and veterinarians. Some cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported. Symptoms of human illness are similar to regular flu: cough, nausea, body aches, fatigue, runny nose and congestion.
Although the risk of human illness is low, anyone having contact with pigs or potentially contaminated equipment should thoroughly wash their hands and limit contact with possibly infected pigs.
Swine, avian and human influenza viruses can combine within pig cells to form new influenza viruses. Flu-like symptoms in swine or people that may have had contact with swine should be reported to animal or public health professionals. Doing so will allow health authorities to maintain a current understanding of the viruses circulating in the animal and human populations.
What are the symptoms in pigs?
Signs of swine influenza include the following:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- nasal discharge
- difficulty breathing
- reduced fertility or abortion
Swine influenza generally does not lead to death, and affected animals usually recover within five to seven days.
How do pigs become infected?
Normally, virus spreads when infected pigs cough or sneeze in close quarters with other pigs. Contaminated equipment or other objects may also play a role in transmitting virus. Influenza virus from birds and humans can also infect pigs.
How can pigs be protected?
The following actions can potentially prevent swine influenza:
- vaccinating animals
- ensuring farm working maintain good hygiene
- following strict biosecurity practices
- providing adequate ventilation in barns
- identifying and segregating sick animals as early as possible
What roles do veterinarians and producers play?
Veterinarians should work closely with clients to develop management strategies to limit the incidence and spread of swine influenza. As part of this approach, veterinarians suffering from the “flu” should limit contact with pigs, and farm workers should follow similar advice. Given the current situation, particular caution should be exercised with visitors to farms, especially those who may have recently returned from the southern United States or Mexico.
Does swine influenza affect food safety?
No, swine influenza is not a food safety concern.
For additional information: www.inspection.gc.ca
What is swine flu and how can humans catch it?
Souce :Angela Mulholland, CTV.ca News
What is swine flu?
Like humans, pigs get the flu. They develop a sudden fever, a barking cough, sneezing, lethargy and typically lose their appetite.
Pigs usually don't die from swine flu; their flu viruses cause high levels of illness but low death rates.
Swine influenza viruses circulate among pigs throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter, just like with outbreaks in humans.
Most swine flu viruses belong to the Influenza A H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes.
Can humans catch swine flu?
Normally, swine flu bugs don't infect people. When they do, it's been in people who have direct contact with pigs; historically, there's such a case every year or two in the U.S.
Between Dec. 2005 and Feb. 2009, there were12 human swine flu infections in the U.S. -- about four a year.
It's possible this uptick was due to improved reporting systems, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says "genetic changes in swine flu viruses and other factors might also be a factor."
Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified.
Can humans pass swine flu?
Usually no. But what makes this new outbreak worrisome is that in all the recent cases, none had any direct contact with pigs.
Two of the new cases were among 16-year-olds at the same school in San Antonio and there's a father-daughter pair in California, said CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat.
Is this a new kind of swine flu?
Yes. The CDC reports that the virus in these latest cases is a never-before-seen mixture of viruses typical among pigs, birds and humans.
The influenza A H1N1 virus contains DNA typical to avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses.
Although it's called swine flu, this new strain is not infecting pigs and has never been seen in pigs.
Why would a new strain be worrisome?
Epidemiologists have been warning for years that it's just a matter of time before a new strain of the flu emerges that has the potential to kill millions. Flu pandemics have historically occurred about three times per century and the world hasn't seen one in more than 40 years.
If an influenza virus changes and becomes a new strain against which people have little or no immunity -- and this new strain is easily spread from person to person -- many people around the world could become ill and die.
The World Health Organization estimates that in the best case scenario, the next pandemic could kill two to seven million people and send tens of millions to hospital
Is there a vaccine?
There is a vaccine available that can be given to pigs to prevent swine influenza. But there is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu.
I got the flu shot this year. Am I protected?
No. H1N1 swine flu viruses are very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.
Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food; you cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.
What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of our regular flu, with sudden onset of:
Lack of appetite
Some people with swine flu also have reported:
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
How is the virus transmitted?
Human-to-human transmission of swine flu is believed to occur the same way as seasonal flu, mainly through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus.
People also can become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Can we treat swine flu in humans?
Yes. Most swine influenza viruses have been treated with antiviral medications.
The virus from the most recent U.S. swine flu cases appeared to be resistant to amantadine and rimantadine but were susceptible to zanamivir and oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Have there been swine flu outbreaks before?
Yes. Most famously, there was an outbreak in 1976 at Fort Dix, N.J., among military recruits that grabbed big headlines at the time.
Worried that they had the beginning of a pandemic on their hands, U.S. officials ordered the manufacture of swine flu vaccine and the country launched a mass immunization program that saw about 40 million people vaccinated.
But the outbreak didn't turn into a pandemic and went away as mysteriously as it appeared.
Sources: The Canadian Press, Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control