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Thursday, June 4, 2009


Thursday, June 4, 2009
Swine influenza or swine flu is a type of flu that normally only affects pigs.

That pigs can get the flu shouldn't be too surprising to people, as there have been many reports in recent years about the bird flu (Avian Influenza), another type of flu virus that affects birds.

Although both types of flu have long caused outbreaks in animals, the main problem occurs when these flu viruses infect humans. This was highlighted by a swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976, in which at least four soldiers got sick and one died, and the more devastating bird flu outbreaks that have killed hundreds of people worldwide.

Swine Flu

Swine flu is actually very common in pigs. And surprisingly, many things about swine flu are the same as the human flu, including that:

* pigs can get a swine flu vaccine
* swine flu outbreaks usually occur among pigs in the late fall and winter, just like our flu season
* swine flu symptoms in pigs can include the sudden onset of fever, coughing, running nose, sneezing, trouble breathing, and not wanting to eat

Fortunately, especially as we have enough to worry about with our own flu viruses, humans do not usually get swine flu. Occasionally they do however, especially children and adults who have close contact with pigs. In fact, the CDC usually reports one or two human cases of swine flu each year.

Swine Flu Symptoms

Swine flu symptoms in humans are the same as regular flu symptoms, and include fever, coughing, decreased appetite, and decreased energy.
2009 Swine Flu Cases

Unlike most years, in which just one or two cases of human swine flu were reported in the United States, at least 40 cases of swine flu in humans were reported as of April 27, 2009 -- the date the CDC declared the issue a public health emergency.