The expression “when pigs fly” is not unknown to us. Just as people believe that pigs will never fly, people did not believe that any strain of virus specific to pigs would affect humans as well. However, the swine flu (also known as H1N1) has made people think again. This strain of flu virus is one, which has the capacity of affecting humans as well as other animals apart from pigs and has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Mexico and Canada are among the most seriously affected areas and this disease made its journey around the world in a matter of just four months! In October 2009, swine flu was declared a national emergency in the US and it has gained a lot of attention in a very short span of time. It is important to know the difference between regular flu and swine flu so as to get the appropriate treatment at the right time. While this can be diagnosed by a swab test, it is imperative for a layman to also know the basic differences between these two viruses.
How H1N1 And Regular Flu Differ
- The primary difference lies in the type of virus. The regular flu comes from strains of the virus that come from humans. Swine flu is a specific strain that has animal origin – from pigs. This is a combination of human, avian and swine flu and is much rarer.
- Only humans can be affected by the regular flu virus. However, the swine flu virus can infect other animals as well.
- The regular flu virus is more active during autumn and winter and tends to thrive in damper climates. The swine flu, however, can infect people throughout the year and is a very tough virus.
- Regular flu is deadlier than the swine flu and kills around 36,000 people each year. The death toll from the swine flu is nowhere near that figure.
- The regular flu is easier to treat than swine flu. Since we are all exposed to the regular flu, our immune system fights against it. Also, there is medication available to tackle regular flu. However, there is no known vaccine as yet for the swine flu and it is much more difficult to deal with.
- The symptoms of swine flu and regular flu are similar. Therefore, it is at times difficult to differentiate between these two. However, one major difference is that the symptoms of swine flu tend to last longer. Also, at the point of time that the symptoms of regular flu should be going away, the symptoms of swine flu get aggravated.
- As far as the age of those infected is concerned, regular flu tends more to affect those who are older and those with weaker immune systems. Swine flu, however, tends to pose a greater risk for those who are 25 years of age and below.
- Regular flu does not become weaker as it gets transmitted from one person to another, whereas swine flu does.