As we have all heard and read, the H1N1 virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. But, why call it “swine flu?”
Flu.gov tells us that it was “…because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America.” We are trying to limit our use of the phrase now, however, because “further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus.” And, if you ask me,
"quadruple reassortant virus” is too complicated to say quickly, so we have all opted for “H1N1.”
Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (swine) flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen it in the U.S. either, this just may be the most widespread and most severe bout.
According to the Federal Government, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized in September of 1988 for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu. She died 8 days later. Another swine flu outbreak in, New Jersey caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death in 1976.
Let’s get to the “nitty-gritty.” Doctors are telling us that some 90% of all flu-like symptoms are H1N1 and that we don’t need to come to the hospital or get tested unless the symptoms are severe, so what are the symptoms and when do I need to go to the hospital?
Check back in tomorrow for a full blog about symptoms, warning signs that your case may require medical attention, tips to keep H1N1 at bay and a checklist for taking care of a person with H1N1.
Don't forget to post your comments below, log on to Flu.gov for more information and/or call the H1N1 Hotline at 877.352.3581.