Swine Flu is a respiratory disease, caused by a strain of the influenza virus known as H1N1. Although, H1N1 is the same strain that causes seasonal outbreaks of flu in humans, the latest type is different as it is a mutated version containing genetic material that is generally found in strains of the virus that affect humans, birds and swine (pigs).
What has happened this time is that the flu viruses from humans and pigs have swapped genetic components with each other, and evolved into a completely new variety – Hence the absence of any concrete treatment plan for it.
Although the strain may have originated in pigs, it is now a wholly human disease and is being transmitted person-to-person.
There are many different types of swine flu and like human flu, the infection is constantly changing. Swine flu does not normally infect humans, although sporadic cases do occur usually in people who have had close contact with pigs. There have also been rare documented cases of humans passing the infection to other humans. Human to human transmission of swine flu thought to spread in the same way as seasonal flu – through coughing and sneezing.
The outbreak in Mexico, which has now spread to most parts of the world seems to involve a new type of swine flu that contains DNA that is typically found in avian and human viruses. The World Health Organization has confirmed at least some of the cases are caused by this new strain of H1N1.
Swine Flu virus is genetically different from the fully human H1N1 seasonal influenza virus that has been circulating globally for the past few years. It contains DNA that is typical to avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses.