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What is swine flu?

swine-flu

What is swine flu?

Swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, is a relatively new strain of an influenza virus that causes symptoms similar to the regular flu. It originated in pigs but is spread primarily from person to person.

Symptoms of swine flu

The symptoms of swine flu are very much like those of regular influenza. They include:

  • chills
  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting

Causes of swine flu

Swine flu is caused by a strain of influenza virus that usually only infects pigs. Unlike typhus, which can be transmitted by lice or ticks, the transmission usually occurs from person to person, not animal to person.

You can’t catch swine flu from eating properly cooked pork products.

Swine flu is very contagious. The disease is spread through saliva and mucus particles. People may spread it by:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • touching a germ-covered surface and then touching their eyes or nose

Diagnosis

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam, look for signs and symptoms of influenza, and possibly order a test that detects influenza viruses.

The most commonly used test is called a rapid influenza diagnostic test, which looks for substances (antigens) on a swab sample from the nose or back of the throat. These tests can provide results in about 15 minutes. However, results vary greatly and are not always accurate. Your doctor may diagnose you with influenza based on symptoms, despite a negative test result.

More-sensitive flu tests are available in some specialized hospitals and labs.

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