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What is swine flu (novel H1N1 influenza A swine flu)?

31 Aug

Swine flu (swine influenza) is a respiratory disease caused by viruses (influenza viruses) that infect the respiratory tract of pigs and result in nasal secretions, a barking-like cough, decreased appetite, and listless behavior.

Swine flu produces most of the same symptoms in pigs as human flu produces in people. Swine flu can last about one to two weeks in pigs that survive. Swine influenza virus was first isolated from pigs in 1930 in the U.S. and has been recognized by pork producers and veterinarians to cause infections in pigs worldwide. In a number of instances, people have developed the swine flu infection when they are closely associated with pigs (for example, farmers, pork processors), and likewise, pig populations have occasionally been infected with the human flu infection.

In most instances, the cross-species infections (swine virus to man; human flu virus to pigs) have remained in local areas and have not caused national or worldwide infections in either pigs or humans. Unfortunately, this cross-species situation with influenza viruses has had the potential to change. Investigators think the 2009 swine flu strain, first seen in Mexico, should be termed novel H1N1 flu since it is mainly found infecting people and exhibits two main surface antigens, H1 (hemagglutinin type 1) and N1 (neuraminidase type1). Recent investigations show the eight RNA strands from novel H1N1 flu have one strand derived from human flu strains, two from avian (bird) strains, and five from swine strains.

 

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