Logo

NEWS BULLETIN: What is Swine Influenza?


 


Here are some useful tips from the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health to help in stopping a Swine Flu outbreak.


What is Swine Influenza? Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs.


Can humans catch swine flu? Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).


What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans? The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


Persons with the above symptoms, who have ALSO travelled recently to Mexico or to the San Diego and Imperial counties, California, or Guadalupe County, Texas, OR were in contact with persons who had febrile respiratory illness and were in one of the three U.S. counties or Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness, are advised to visit a physician immediately to be checked for the disease. Further, patients who feel or think that they need to see a doctor or visit an Emergency department or health centre are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.


Can people catch swine flu from eating pork? No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe.


How does swine flu spread? Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.


(For further information and to keep updated on the latest news on the spread of the Swine Flu, please visit the Ministry of Health website @ www.health.gov.tt)