Swine Flu Exposed

Swine Flu Exposed

What is a Virus?

Lets shed some light on what a virus actually is in order to better understand the Swine Flu. A virus is a bundle of DNA or RNA wrapped in a protein shell or coat. Viruses replicate by infiltrating the cells of a living host and subsequently using the cells functions to reproduce it’s own DNA. A virus cannot survive long outside of a living host (2-8 hrs generally).

Why The Big Deal About Swine Flu?

The seasonal flu is responsible for thousands of deaths a year. So why the big deal about the Swine Flu? Well, there is certainly a little media hype surrounding the Swine Flu but there is potential danger. Especially for the elderly, infant, and immunocompromised (persons with weakened immune systems) populations. Another concern, although scientists are planning on having a vaccine by fall, is that we currently have no vaccine for the Swine Fl. Also, anytime a virus jumps from one species to the next, there is potential for recombination. Let’s say a person infected with the Swine Flu is also carrying the regular seasonal flu virus, the two viruses will meet, merge, and recombine to form a totally new strain of the flu virus with potentially deadly properties.

Swine Flu Prevention

Wash your hands frequently for 15-30 seconds using a vigorous friction rub. Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing. Place tissues in the proper receptacles. Keep your distance from persons with respiratory illness. If ill, rest and reduce social activity so as not to infect others. You cannot get Swine Flu from eating cooked pork or handling uncooked pork. As stated previously, a virus must have a living host in order to survive. So unless you plan on handling a freshly butchered pig, you have nothing to worry about. However, bacteria can survive without a living host. Cook pork properly and wash hands thoroughly after handling raw pork in order to avoid bacterial infection. Use common sense and you should be fine.

R.Hunt, RN