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Swine influenza (H1N1), while common in pigs, is rare in humans. Not since 1976 (when there was an outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey that infected about 200 people and caused one death), has this been a huge health issue for humans.

Most of us have been logging on to the Internet and staying tuned into TV and radio news to get clued in on what's going on. But, some swine flu facts are getting more air time than others. So check out these four swine flu facts and theories—they just may surprise you.

Swine Flu Is Very Similar to Human Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses, which can also cause influenza in humans. Like human flu, it’s mostly seasonal, with the main outbreaks occurring in late fall and winter.

Both human and swine flu share symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. In some cases, swine flu may also cause diarrhea and vomiting. It may also be worse due to underlying chronic medical conditions.

Cytokine Storm: Why Swine Flu Affects Younger, Healthy People More

A strange characteristic of swine flu is that it’s more serious in young, healthy people, unlike influenza, which can be fatal in babies and the elderly. Scientists say this is a common feature of pandemic viruses. But why?

Researches in Hong Kong suggest that it’s due to a cytokine storm, which they discovered also occurs with avian flu. A cytokine storm occurs when lung cells produce more pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines than regular influenza A viral strains do. In other words, it’s the host’s immune response to the virus that causes an over-reaction to the virus that can lead to death, and not the replication of the virus itself.

Although the first US death has occurred in an infant, scientists suggest that babies and elderly people have weaker immune systems that don’t react so strongly to viral infections. On the other hand, the strong immune systems of young, healthy people are primed to respond and more susceptible to cytokine storms.

Swine Flu: Agent of Population Control or Biological Weapon?

The strain of swine flu sweeping around the world is a unique strain — it combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way that researchers have not seen before. It has bird flu from North America, swine flu from Europe, and swine flu from Asia. Humans do not have natural immunity to this strain.


This is spurring even more concern from health officials, because there’s no guarantee that antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu or Relenza will be effective against swine flu. “We are very, very concerned,” World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Thomas Abraham said. “We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human .... It’s all hands on deck at the moment.”

But, is it possible someone would prefer that the response from WHO and other health agencies weren’t successful? The highly unusual and unique makeup of the virus is leaving many to speculate that swine flu was deliberately created in a lab, possibly as a biological weapon or a form of population control by secret government agencies. Which government isn’t specified….

Swine Flu: Shades of Impossible II

Remember when the villain in this movie sequel starring Tom Cruise tried to market a virus called Chimera? His grand scheme involved taking over a pharmaceutical company that had the antidote so he could rake in millions. Similar claims are being made about swine flu.

According to Global Research, a site run by the Canadian non-profit Centre for Research on Globalisation, it’s possible that the virus was concocted in a lab and then dispatched with the intention of creating a pandemic.

Global Research points out it wouldn’t be the first time that a virus was manipulated for this purpose. For instance, in 2006 investigators discovered that a major pharmaceutical company knowingly dumped HIV-tainted drugs for hemophiliacs onto European, Asian and Latin American markets.

Currently, the alert level for swine flu is at phase four. With more countries experiencing cases of the virus, the WHO is planning to raise the alert to phase five, which is the first level at which a pandemic is recognized. Phase six is a full pandemic outbreak. No doubt, more facts and theories will emerge in the coming days and weeks. But the most important thing at this stage is to protect yourself—and not panic.

How to Protect Yourself from Swine Flu

Swine flu can last up to 10 days. Here’s how to stay clear of it:

  • Wash your hands continuously throughout the day. Use warm water and a vigorous scrubbing action for 20 to 30 seconds. Or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid contact with people who are coughing or sneezing, or exhibiting any other symptoms such as vomiting.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and get enough sleep.
  • Beware of symptoms of swine flu — fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. If you exhibit these symptoms, visit your doctor to be diagnosed and receive treatment.
    Currently, the CDC is recommending the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®).

More Swine Flu Facts

  • You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. The CDC recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill the swine flu virus or other bacteria and viruses.
  • Swine flu can be transmitted from pigs to pigs, pigs to humans, humans to humans and humans to pigs.
  • The most common way for humans to catch it is to be in close contact with pigs. However, it can also be transmitted between humans by coughing, sneezing, or by touching someone with the virus and then touching your mouth or nose.

For the latest news updates and information on how to keep you and your family safe, visit our Swine Flu Center.