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Influenza A (H1N1) virus is a subtype of influenza A virus and the most common cause of influenza (flu) in humans. Some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans and cause a small fraction of all influenza-like illness and a small fraction of all seasonal influenza. H1N1 strains caused a few percent all human flu infections in 2004–2005. Other strains of H1N1 are endemic in pigs (swine influenza) and in birds (avian influenza).

In June 2009, World Health Organization declared that flu due to a new strain of swine-origin H1N1 was responsible for the 2009 flu pandemic. This strain is often called swine flu by the public media.

Swine influenza, more commonly
known as swine flu, is caused by any strain of the influenza virus prevalent in pigs (swine). Though rare to humans, swine flu is common in swine. Those who constantly work with swine are at risk of catching swine influenza, only if the swine carry a strain which is able to be transmitted to humans. These strains are rarely able to infect humans, except in a case where the SIV mutates into a form able to pass easily from one person to another. It is believed that the strain responsible for the 2009 swine flu outbreak in humans had undergone such a mutation.

Medical experts feel the new strain of virus is a combination of pig viruses, mixed with human and bird viruses. Swine flu can live on commonly touched surfaces for several hours, including doorknobs. The virus has taken the lives of hundreds in Mexico and is now causing illness to many in the United States.

 Symptoms include:

  • Fever, cough & sore throat
  • Muscle pain, headache, chills & fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

The Swine flu virus can be spread through uncovered coughs and sneezes, as well as by touching your mouth or nose to unwashed hands. 

Precautions

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue & dispose immediately
  • Wash your hands with soap & water
  • Limit contact in locations where illness is present
  • Wear masks as necessary
  • Avoid close contact with someone who's sick
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Stay at home if you feel sick

For up-to-date information on The Swine Flu in the US, visit http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

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