The H1N1 virus, also known as ‘pig flu’ or swine flu has been identified in dozens of people North America and Mexico, and can cause mild respiratory illness and seasonal flu-like symptoms in humans. The H1N1 virus is contagious and has the potential to worsen any underlying medical conditions. The root cause of the H1N1 virus is still under investigation, but experts are pointing to several possible causes. In a recent report by Medical News Today, experts trace this particular virus to a respiratory illness that has affected pigs and today’s virus has many similarities to flu strains that had become temporarily ‘extinct’ in humans. (Source: Medical News Today)
What Causes the H1N1 Virus?
Anyone can contract the H1N1 virus when they come into close contact with someone who has the disease, or when they touch an object that has been in contact with a contaminated person. The leading causes of H1N1 contamination include:
-Handling pigs that are infected with the H1N1 virus
-Being in a sick person’s ‘breathing zone’ or being close to an infected person when they cough or sneeze
Unlikely Causes of H1N1 Virus
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services strives to educate people on all facets of the H1N1 virus, there are still many myths about swine flu circulating online and offline. Some of the unlikely H1N1 virus causes include eating pork and pork products , or attending public events where people are not wearing surgical masks. The CDC reports that only about 100 people are known to be infected as of spring 2009, so it is unlikely that you could get the H1N1 virus simply by being out in public.
Preventing H1N1 Flu Contamination
Unlike the seasonal influenza virus, there is currently no vaccine available for protection against the H1N1 virus. Still, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone to take steps to protect their health and reduce the risk of contamination.
The CDC points to several flu H1N1 flu prevention strategies. Since the H1N1 virus is contagious, it’s important for people to wash their hands regularly, avoid direct contact with people who have been infected with the virus, and to see a physician as soon as they experience any of the early warning signs and symptoms of infection.
Illness resulting from contamination can be mild to severe depending on the person’s immune system, and those who have compromised immune systems, tend to get sick regularly, or have an underlying medical condition, may experience some of the most severe effects of the H1N1 virus.
MedicineNet.com: Swine Flu
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: H1N1 Flu and You
Medical News Today