What is Swine Flu?


Photo Credit: Matt Jeacock/istock

In 2009 an epidemic broke out in America, we know it as the H1N1 virus. The disease originally was nicknamed swine flu because the virus that causes the disease spread to humans from the live pigs in which it evolved. The virus has a mix of genes from swine, bird, and human flu viruses. To distinguish it from flu viruses that infect mainly pigs and from the seasonal influenza, the CDC calls the virus “2009 H1N1 virus.” Other names include “novel H1N1” or nH1N1, “quadruple assortant H1N1,” and “2009 pandemic H1N1.”


The H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human like the regular flu. You could pick up germs directly from airborne droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person. You could also pick up the virus by touching an object contaminated by the cough or touch of an infected person and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. That’s why you should make washing your hands a habit, even when you’re not ill. Infected people can start spreading flu germs up to a day before symptoms start, and for up to seven days after getting sick. The H1N1 swine flu virus is a human virus spread by people and not by pigs. The only way to get the new swine flu is from another person.


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