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Swine Flu Glossary

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Swine flu symptoms: Symptoms are similar to the traditional flu bug and can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and tiredness. Some people with the swine flu also have diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms may be worse in those with underlying illnesses. 

Swine influenza: A very contagious respiratory disease caused by a strain of the influenza type A virus called H1N1. Swine influenza, or “swine flu,” originally occurred only in pigs, or, rarely, in those who were around pigs. However, a new strain of the swine flu virus has been able to spread from person to person. Outbreaks of the new swine flu started to occur between humans in March 2009. 

Swine flu treatment: Treatment with certain antiviral drugs can make swine flu symptoms less severe and help you recover sooner. The CDC recommends Relenza (zanamivir) or Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for treatment and prevention of the swine flu. The drugs may also help prevent serious flu-related complications. They work best when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms. The swine flu cannot be treated with amantadine (Symadine or Symmetrel) or rimantadine (Flumadine), because the virus is resistant to them.

Swine flu virus: A virus found in pigs that causes swine influenza. The swine flu virus is different from the human flu virus. There are many different strains of swine flu virus (such as H1N1 and H3N2). H1N1 is the most common. Usually, a swine flu virus infects only pigs, or in rare cases, those around pigs. But a new type of swine flu virus has been spreading from person to person.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir): An antiviral medicine that prevents and treats influenza types A (including the swine flu) and B. Tamiflu is a type of drug called a neuraminidase inhibitor. It targets the flu virus and stops it from spreading in the body. This helps make flu symptoms less severe and helps you recover sooner. The medicine is approved for prevention in people 1 years old and older. Tamiflu can be used for flu treatment in patients as young as 2 weeks old.

Threat level: An alert system established by the World Health Organization to inform the public about global health events. The scale ranges from phase 1 (low risk for a pandemic) to phase 6 (full-blown pandemic under way).

Travel restrictions: Recommendations by worldwide health agencies that let you know when travel, particularly flying, to certain areas may put you at risk for disease. For example, in late April 2009, the CDC recommended that people avoid nonessential travel to Mexico to avoid catching the swine flu.

Veracruz, Mexico: The origin of the swine flu outbreak. Health workers traced the new swine flu virus to a pig farm in the southeastern Mexican state. A young boy who lived in a village near the farm was among the first people to contract the swine flu. The boy survived, but others near the area developed the illness and died.

World Health Organization (WHO): The public health branch of the United Nations. The global agency monitors worldwide health trends and helps develop standards to improve public health. It provides a pandemic warning system plus information and statistics on various diseases and outbreaks, including the swine flu.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 27, 2012

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