What is the swine flu (H1N1 influenza A virus) and what causes it?
The 2009 swine flu virus (otherwise known as H1N1 influenza) is caused by an H1N1 influenza A virus. H1N1 influenza viruses are the normal cause of influenza in humans and may also infect other animals, including pigs. This particular variant is an example of a virus that likely originated in swine and has mutated (changed its biological characteristics) so it is now affecting humans.
What are the symptoms of swine flu (H1N1 influenza A virus)?
Symptoms of swine flu vary widely and are similar to symptoms of seasonal flu. Infected individuals may experience
How is swine flu (H1N1 flu) treated?
Like seasonal flu, most people will recover from swine flu (H1N1 flu) within a week without any antiviral medications. The U.S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals with suspected or confirmed swine flu infection be considered for treatment with antiviral agents, especially hospitalized patients and patients at higher risk for complications.
Antiviral agents prevent, shorten, and reduce the severity of flu. Antiviral agents used for treatment and prevention of swine flu are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Swine flu is resistant to amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine). Oseltamivir and zanamivir are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment and prevention of flu in adults and children. They are most effective when administered within two days of an infection. Oseltamivir is administered as a capsule, and zanamivir is administered by oral inhalation.