Virus: What is Swine Flu?
Some people are confused about swine flu. First of all, it’s often referred to as the H1N1 virus. Second of all, people are wondering if they can get it from eating pork. This article will try to clear up some of the confusion.
Does Pork Cause Swine Flu?
No, pork does not cause swine flu. You can continue to eat pork chops, ham, bacon, or any other pork without getting the virus. Your meat is safe as long as it’s thoroughly cooked.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease, so you’re more likely to catch it from droplets released during sneezing or coughing. You can also catch it from touching an infected surface. Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing can reduce your chances of developing the illness.
Why is it called Swine Flu?
There are dozens of variations of the flu virus, some affect humans and some don’t. Swine flu is normally only found in pigs. It’s a flu-like virus technically known as (A)H1N1 and has affected pigs for years. The earliest known case appeared in 1930.
In the past, the only humans affected by swine flu were those that came in direct contact with living pigs, such as farmers. But the H1N1 strain of the virus is troubling because it spreads among people who have had no contact with pigs.
The H1N1 strain of the virus first appeared in Mexico, and has since spread to various countries and continents. The place of origin of this strain of the virus is unknown.
What Causes Swine Flu?
Swine flu is highly contagious, and spreads the same was as seasonal flu or the common cold. You can catch the virus if you come in contact with an infected person who sneezes or coughs.
When an infected person sneezes or coughs, they can release tiny drops of saliva that contain the virus. These drops can also land on surfaces, such as doorknobs and tables. If you come in contact with these droplets, the virus can be passed to you.
People with swine flu can be contagious for up to 7 days before they show flu-like symptoms. For children the number goes up to 10 days.
Swine flu symptoms are the same as seasonal flu symptoms (coughing, chills, headache, sneezing, body aches, sore throat, vomiting, and fever). The only way to know which strain of flu you have is to be diagnosed by a doctor.
Unless you’re completely isolated from human contact, there’s no way to be sure you haven’t come in contact with the virus. Health care workers, school teachers, and people who provide emergency services are at the most risk.
However, you can protect yourself by wearing a government approved face mask. The Basic Pandemic Swine Flu Survival Kit comes with one N95 adult-sized molded face mask, and the Pandemic Swine Flu Family Protection Kit includes 4 child-sized face masks and 4 adult-sized face masks.
These masks are highly recommended for people who work in healthcare or with small children. It is also recommended that you frequently wash and sanitize your hands.
These precautions will decrease your chances of becoming infected with the virus.