Though considered a seasonal flu, an outbreak of an influenza A virus also identified as H1N1 virus was first documented in 1918 during the Spanish flu outbreak while the second occurred between January 2009 and August 2010. Unlike the Spanish flu outbreak, the 2009 outbreak was of a novel strain of H1N1 virus and was called swine flu due to its likeness to flu viruses that attack the pig’s respiratory system. The H1N1 virus is commonly found in pigs and birds but can also spread among humans.
-Vomiting and diarrhea could occur though, not very common.
In severe but rare cases, usually in immune-compromised person’s, it could lead to respiratory failure or death.
MODE OF TRANSMISSION
-Close contact with infected respiratory droplets.
Well cooked pork meat has been confirmed to be incapable of transferring the virus.
Some people are more susceptible to the virus and might lead to them manifesting severe symptoms or complications.
-Children under 5 years,
-People living with HIV or cancer
-Persons with a compromised immune system.
Only a laboratory test can confirm the presence of the virus in an individual.
-Reduce person-person contact.
-Cover mouth with tissue while sneezing or coughing.
-Dispose used tissue properly and immediately.
- Cough into your elbow if no tissue paper available
-Wash hands often.
Following the 2009 outbreak, scientists developed a vaccine to shield humans from the virus since then, it has become part of the seasonal flu shots made available in most countries.
Researchers in China lately acknowledged an influenza called G4 that can infect both pigs and humans. Though its ability to spread from person to person has not been established, the virus is said to possess all the essential potentials for future pandemic virus.
Scientists have compared pigs to “mixing vessels” for breeding pandemic influenza virus due to the fact that they host many mammalian and avian flu viruses resulting in the creation of a novel strain of virus from gene swap thereby, giving it the potential to infect new hosts which could be human.
Presently, no indication to show the virus can be transmitted from person to person nevertheless, presence of H1N1 gene that caused earlier influenza pandemics is established in the new G4 strain, which suggests its ability to result in a future pandemic.
Researchers discovered antibodies to the novel virus in the blood samples of people who work at pig farms, which indicates prospects for virus adaptation in humans and increases fears for possible group of pandemic viruses.
Existing flu vaccines have been confirmed to be unlikely to protect against the new G4 strain
Taking precautionary measures are one of the ways of reducing the risk of contracting infectious diseases, just like the COVID-19 and other communicable diseases hand washing and other hygienic practices are considered simple acts that can break chain of transmission of infectious disease.