Swine flu, What is Swine Flu?
What is Swine Flu?
Swine flu is basically a flu virus in pigs that transfers to humans, but many of us don't know that H1N1 is not the only swine flu virus. in fact, Swine flu strains have different types of viruses, and H1N1 is just one type of them there are many other types of swine flu virus infection name H1N2, H3N1, H3N2 and few more which are basically subtypes of Influenza A virus. there are few influenza C viruses as well. but what are Influenza A and C viruses?
Let’s simplify every bit of swine flu and understand this virus in all aspects.
let’s keep aside swine flu for now, and focus on only Influenza viruses, the word Influenza simply means Flu. and its spread through some or other viruses into humans or animals. and this Influenzas virus categorized in total 3 influenza viruses, type A- B, and C.
Influenza Type- A spread from wild aquatic birds.
Type A is the most dangerous among the three when it comes to humans.
Type-B this virus almost exclusively infects humans and is less common than Influenza A. This type of influenza mutates at a rate 2–3 times slower than type A and consequently is less genetically diverse.
Type-C which infects Humans, dogs, and pigs sometimes causing both severe illness and local epidemics.
However, influenza C is less common than the other types and usually only causes mild disease in children. So when it comes to swine flu - there are a variety of viruses involved in a variety of swine flu. but when it comes to swine flu as a whole, it carries Influenza A and Influenza C viruses.
and in type A their subtypes of viruses, H1n1, h1n2, h3n1, h3n2 and h2n3 and in these subtypes H1N1 is we all heard of? simply because it is more dangerous and caused many deaths during 2009 swine flu breakout.
The swine influenza virus
The swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide.
Transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human flu, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human flu, it is called zoonotic swine flu.
Zoonotic - a name derived for zoonoses- a Greek word for the animal, and zoonoses are infectious diseases of animals that can naturally be transmitted to humans. these viruses can be transmitted from animal to human through the air - which we call influenza transmission and through bites and saliva which we call rabies. Like swine flu, Major Modern diseases such as Ebola virus and HIV are zoonotic diseases.
These zoonotic strains of swine flu rarely pass from humans to humans. And mostly transferred from animal to human only.
So, the 2009 H1N1 virus was not zoonotic swine flu, as it is not just transmitted from pigs to humans, but it went further by transmitting it from humans to humans through airborne droplets. and that’s where it became dangerous. so, if swine flu virus can only transfer from pig to human, how its able transfer from human to human in first place? for this first, we need to understand a virus infection in pigs. swine can be infected by Avian or Bird flu strain, human flu strain, and pig flu strain. most swine flu content only one strain of the virus that transfers to humans but it cannot transfer further from human to another human. but during H1N1 breakout, a particular pig who got infected from the bird strain of influenza A virus at the same time got infected by the Human strain of influenza A virus. and these two different strained got mixed and new Strain of Influenza A was born. which was able to transfer from Human to human. simply because the newly born virus has a human strain of influenza A- which basically can infect humans by another human. and that’s how this strain of the virus was able to spread faster from human to human contact. swine flu or H1N1 is not first introduced to humans in 2009, it is in existence for almost 100 years. the first H1N1 the breakout happened in 1918 which caused 50 to 100 million human death worldwide and infected 500 million people. but it had a different name to the flu “the Spanish flu”. since then the virus is still exited amongst us but till 2009 it was not that serious. this is how swine flu evolved but what happens when this virus infects to a human. basically, the H1n1 virus is like ordinary seasonal flu, you may not know this but it has the same symptoms, almost the same diagnosis, and the same treatment as seasonal flu. but if it remains untreated it becomes dangerous. when a human body gets infected by the H1N1 virus, it mostly starts affecting the ventilation system of the human body. that is the Respiratory system. this system uses specific organs to exchange gases, and it maintains oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
the system is vital to every living creature. from all animals to all plants.
considering specifically humans Most important organs in this ventilation system are Lungs, this ventilation system is what makes you breathe properly and spread oxygen into your body through blood. simply a failure in this system means you cannot breathe. so, when the H1N1 virus enters the human body it results in inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system. and both oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot be kept at a normal level. resulting in an increase of co2 levels which is called Hypercapnia. and forming of drops in oxygen carried in blood cells called Hypoxemia.
resulting in increased work of breathing and eventually death. And respiratory of ventilation failure is the most common cause of death due to swine flu. there are other causes of death like Pneumonia, High fever that creates neurological problems and failure. dehydration from excessive vomiting and diarrhea. electrolyte imbalance and kidney failure.
Who is at danger and can get infected by swine flu?
Basically, anyone can get infected by swine flu. but we already discussed there is a variety of swine flu.
The Zoonotic swine flu which only infects from pigs to humans. people who work in poultry and farming are only at risk from zoonotic Swine flu. Which includes most types of swine flu. and can be prevented by related vaccination. but when it comes to H1N1 swine flu everyone at risk. simply because it spread from humans to humans. But fatalities due to swine flu are more likely in young children and the elderly. so, if you are age is between 19 to 40 you are comparatively less likely to die even after swine flu infection compares to other age groups. So even someone gets infected, what are the treatments? as I said earlier that swine flu is similar to seasonal flu and same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu work against H1N1 swine flu. A commonly used drug like Tamiflu and Relenza works best. Antibiotics won’t do anything for you. simply because flu is caused by the virus, not bacteria.
How can we prevent it from spreading?
there are 3 steps to prevent the spread, first to prevent it in pigs, prevent transmission from pigs to humans, and recantation of its spread among humans. at the first step, we can prevent flu in pigs by giving vaccination to pigs, at second stage where it transferred from pig to human, this can only happen at swine farms or veterinary facilities, so people who work in such areas should be mask and gloves as well protect themselves by vaccination. and at the third level, swine flu spread between humans when infected people cough or sneeze, then other people breathe in the virus or touch something with the virus on it and their own face. so, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth when you are in a public place. at individual level washing hands frequently is the great shield against any viral infection—you can even use hand sanitizers.
Another great tool in prevention is Vaccination
It teaches your immune system to attack the real virus.
Is it the same as the seasonal flu vaccination?
No. The swine flu vaccine is different from the seasonal flu vaccination that’s offered every year. The seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against swine flu.
Vaccines have been developed to protect against the virus that causes swine flu. There are two different brands of vaccine – Pandemrix and Celvapan. Many people given the Pandemrix vaccine will only need one dose. People who have the Celvapan vaccine will need two doses three weeks apart.
according to an analysis led by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the immunity lasts for two year
The first injectable vaccine of swine flu in India, called Vaxiflu-S, was developed on 3rd June 2015 by an Ahmedabad-based company Zydus Cadila which costs Rs 300.
How vaccination protects you?
A vaccination dose of it creates antibodies in your body for quick understanding let’s call them defense army. when the swine flu virus enters the body, this army comes to fight and kill the virus. and 1 dose of vaccination contains an army that can fight for 10 days against the virus. but what if the virus survives more than 10 days - h1n1 virus is most dangerous in the first 4-5 days of infection, it can only transfer to another human in that span. simply after 4-5 days, it becomes less harmful and less spreadable. altogether if you look at swine flu. it is not that dangerous at the individual patient level, and it is actually the regular flu. but when it comes to its spreading capability among the mass population it becomes the most dangerous. just for example take one imaginary city, which has 10 hospitals, if there are ten patients of seasonal flu, they get attended in one day. and as they got treatment in time, they cannot spread it to other people but when it comes to swine flu if 10 people get infected they can immediately transfer to any no. of people let’s say they transfer to 100 people in a single day these infected people will be able to see the symptoms 2 days after the actual infection. till then they will have infected 1000 people. so before even they go to take a treatment, they have already infected many people. so, as no. of patients grows hospitals and facilities will be insufficient to treat people. a hospital cannot treat the people with the speed at which it gets transferred to other people. so, such a way it can become unstoppable and can infect the entire city in no time. and like the city it can happen to state, country, and to the entire earth. yes still at the individual level it is regular flu. how it is dangerous.
That’s it about swine flu virus.
Related Article: Ebola Virus- Hemorrhagic fever virus