Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

The flu is coming: Are we ready for the next pandemic?

Even though many people dismiss and misunderstand it—calling everything from a cold to a stomach bug "the flu"— influenza actually claims 12,000 to 56,000 lives in the U.S. every year. And that's in a normal flu season.

Medical research

Cause of viral infection of the brain mapped out

Researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital have - in collaboration with international researchers - found a cause for why contracting herpes virus ends up being fatal for some people. While most people ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Swine flu outbreak in India raises concern

Since December, an outbreak of swine flu in India has killed more than 1,200 people, and a new MIT study suggests that the strain has acquired mutations that make it more dangerous than previously circulating strains of H1N1 ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Researchers monitor for next novel influenza strain

As seasonal influenza cases decrease across the United States, Kansas State University researchers are preparing for the next potential virulent strain of flu.

Health

WHO simplifies pandemic alert system after criticism

The World Health Organization on Monday published a new plan on how to alert the world to possible flu pandemics, following harsh criticism of its handling of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.

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Swine influenza

Swine influenza (also called H1N1 flu, swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus. Swine influenza virus (SIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.

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 influenza, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human influenza, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection. The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked.

During the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, allowing accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, only 50 such transmissions have been confirmed. These strains of swine flu rarely pass from human to human. Symptoms of zoonotic swine flu in humans are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

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