Swine Influenza

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Swine Influenza

Background Information

Swine Influenza, also referred to as swine flu, is an infection of the respiratory system of pigs caused by various swine influenza viruses (Hampson & Mackenzie, 2006). The viruses, which circulate amongst swine all through the year, result in developement of disease and reduced rates of death among pigs. However, like in humans, most of the outbreaks take place during winter. The disease was initially documented in 1918-1919 during the Spanish influenza epidemic (Hampson & Mackenzie, 2006). In 1930, the virus was quarantined from pigs and human isolation followed in 1974. This move confirmed a conjecture that humans could be infected by influenza viruses.

Research indicates that pigs contribute greatly in the transmission of the virus. It is based on the fact that they consist of receptors of human and avian influenza viruses. Subsequently, they are envisioned as probable blending vessels where genetic materials are swapped. It results in new posterity viruses and human beings are deemed to be extremely vulnerable and immunologically naïve towards them. The high emergence of pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus necessitates a better comprehension of of the transmission of interspecies (Lipatov et al, 2004).

The critical outbreak in 2009 was linked with novel influenza virus strain. It was the type A virus H1N1, which stems from avian, human, and swine influenza. The source of the novel strain is not known and it transmits with simplicity among human beings. The strain results in mild symptoms, which does not require medications for treatment.

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Characterize Occurrence Using the Three Dimensions (Person, Place, and Time)

Whilst describing an epidemiologic occurrence, epidemiologists endeavors for the same inclusiveness. Such occurrences include epidemic of influenza or an amplification of vehicle crashes. Some of the aspects widely employed by epidemiologists encompass place, person, time, and risk factors/cause (CDC, 2012). The first three aspects are commonly used by descriptive epidemiologists to compile and analyze data. One of the benefits linked to this is that the epidemiologist can comprehend what can be revealed by the data founded on the available variables, eccentrics, and limitations. Secondly, he/she becomes familiar with the degree and pattern of the health issue being examined, for instance, the neighborhoods, period, and clusters of persons most susceptible. Thus, the epidemiologist is able to generate a comprehensive portrayal of individual health through graphs, tables and maps. Identification of the most vulnerable persons assists in offering significant evidences of what causes the illness, and the same can be converted into testable suppositions (CDC, 2012).


The incidence of illness modifies with time. These modifications take place on a regular basis, though others are not predictable. West Nile virus and influenza are the two illnesses that take place in a similar season (Winter) every year. On the other hand, salmonellosis and hepatitis B have no definite time of occurring. Illnesses that arise seasonally can be controlled and prevented. For instance, health officers can forestall their incidence and device preventive and control methods, including vaccination for influenza. In contrast, for illnesses that arise periodically, researchers can carry out investigations identifying the transmission modes and causes. It can assist them in developing suitable measures to prevent and control further disease incidence. Both positions require the pattern of the occurrence of the disease to be displayed by time as this helps in monitoring disease incidence.


By portraying disease occurrence by place, health officers are able to offer insight with reference to the geographic magnitude of the issue and its geographic variant. Place designates both the place of dwelling and location for pertinent disease incidence, encompassing birthplace, hospital unit, diagnosis place, and place of employment amongst others (CDC, 2012). Place may also refer to place category including rural or urban areas, foreign or domestic, and non-institutional and institutional.

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Personal features affect illness, and as a result, analysis and organization of individual information is important. Such analysis is done with reference to individual characteristics such as sex, age, and race. Biological characteristics include immune status, activities such as leisure and occupational, acquired characteristics such as marital status, as well as socioeconomic factors (CDC, 2012). Sex and age are the frequently analyzed individual features, but research indicates that considering other variables are important depending with the available data and the illness. Such data is displayed using graphs and tables.

Factors and Their Interactions (Agent, Environment, Vector, and Host)

It is evident that illnesses do not take place haphazardly in a given population. However, there is a high likelihood that such diseases can affect individuals of a specific population compared to others, since the risk factors are not randomly distributed. Epidemiology aims at identifying the factors which makes some individuals more vulnerable compared to others. Epidemiologic triangle is an example of a model of illness causation (Cannell et al, 2008). It comprises of a vulnerable host, an external agent, and a surrounding where the agent and host are brought together. The model indicates that illnesses are caused by the interrelation between the vulnerable host and the agent in a setting that backs agent transmission from the environment to the host (Cannell et al, 2008). The model can be depicted in two ways using environmental characteristics as host and agent interconnect in various multifaceted ways to generate the illness. Diverse illnesses necessitate dissimilar interactions and balances of these elements. In order to prevent and control disease, efficient, practical, and suitable measures needs to be developed evaluating he elements and how they interact.

In order for an illness to take place, an agent is needed. Such agents include parasites, viruses, microbe, and bacterium. Currently, physical and chemical causes have been termed s agents.

Host signifies the human who can acquire the infection. The risk factors inherent to the host influences an individual’s vulnerability, exposure and response to the causative agent (CDC, 2012). Mostly, exposure opportunities are influenced by behaviors, personal choices, hygiene, sex and age. Response and vulnerability on the other hand are inclined by factors such as an atomic structure, genetic composition, and psychological makeup.

Environment refers to the external factors that influence the agent and exposure opportunity. They include physical factors, biologic factors, and socioeconomic factors.

Threat Assessment

In 2012, Minnesota Department of Health Site Exit Disclaimer affirmed finding three infections with H1N2v virus with the epidemic M gene from H1N1 virus of 2009 (CDC, 2012). It was reported that the cases had an extended close contact with swine at a trade fair. This virus circulates in swine with rare infections in human. However, the virus was recently detected in humans. H1N2v is different from H3N2v which was contracted by about 319 people in the US in 2011 and 2012.

The Department of the Interior, Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Department of Homeland Security have established three distinct scenarios in which an outbreak could occur in the US. They include:

  • Detection of a highly pathogenic influenza in the US

  • Detection of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in wild birds

  • Detection of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in commercial poultry

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Medical Treatment of Swine Influenza

The treatment of influenza can be done in three ways. First way is vaccination. Vaccines exist in two brands: Celvapan (administered in two doses at a spun of three weeks) and Pandemrix (administered as a single dose). The vaccine is offered to people who are susceptible to the infection for example pregnant women (Hampson & Mackenzie, 2006). The vaccine cannot be given to people who have reacted to a previous dose of the vaccine.

Second way is the Antiviral Therapy. Similar to vaccination, there are two categories of antiviral drugs for both treatment and prevention of influenza. They are adamantanes and neuraminidase inhibitors which hold back M2, a viral protein. The drugs minimize the chance of acquiring the infection by about 80%, and the median period of signs by a day (Hampson & Mackenzie, 2006). Oseltamivir and Zanamivir are related drugs accepted by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States for the treatment of the infection. Besides, controlling types A and B influenza, they are also working against the 1918 avian influenza.

Third way is the Swine Flu and Ayurveda. Ayurveda enhances the notion that if the immune system of an individual is strong, then an individual cannot contract the infection. It campaigns for the strengthening of one’s immune system through taking decoctions or special herbs. These herbs are also responsible for preventing the flu, and relieving the symptoms (Cannell et al, 2008). The treatment involves the use of certain herbs including Aloe Vera, Ginger, Gooseberry, and garlic.

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The prevention of the disease comprises of three components including prevention in swine, transmission to humans, and spread among humans (Lipatov et al, 2004). Prevention of the spread of infection amongst swine includes herd management, facility management and vaccination. The disease is as a result of secondary infection by pathogens, and as such vaccination related strategies are the best prevention method. Recently, vaccination as a prevention method has proved difficult because the evolution of the disease causing virus has yielded conflicting responses to conventional vaccines. Experts report that the standard commercial swine flu vaccines are the most effective to control this infection.

Facility management includes maintaining the right temperature and using disinfectants to manage the swine flu virus in the environment. Evidently, the virus hardly survives outside a living cell for over two weeks (Lipatov et al, 2004). Herd management, on the other hand, includes not mixing the infected pigs with healthy pigs to control outbreaks.

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Prevention in humans includes ensuring that humans do not contract the infection. The transmission of the infection from pigs to humans takes place when humans are in close contact with pigs, especially in swine farms. In order to control this infection, farmers are urged wear face masks and gloves when dealing with infected pigs (Lipatov et al, 2004). Vaccinating swine to prevent transmission is a critical way of controlling transmission to human. Besides, transmission can be from human-to-human. It occurs when the infected cough or sneeze and the uninfected breathe in the virus or touch an infected surface, and then, touch their own face (CDC, 2012).

It is recommended that the standard infection control against influenza be used to manage the infection. It includes washing hands with soap and disinfecting the house especially after a public contact to destroy the virus.