Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) and Diabetes

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs.

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

How does swine flu spread?

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs.

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Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

How does diabetes affect how I respond to a cold or flu?

Being sick by itself can raise your blood glucose. Moreover, illness can prevent you from eating properly, which further affects blood glucose. In addition, diabetes can make the immune system more vulnerable to severe cases of the flu. People with diabetes who come down with the flu may become very sick and may even have to go to a hospital.

What should I do when I am sick?

There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

  • Be sure to continue taking your diabetes pills or insulin. Dont stop taking them even if you cant eat. Your health care provider may even advise you to take more insulin during sickness.
  • Test your blood glucose every four hours, and keep track of the results.
  • Drink extra (calorie-free) liquids, and try to eat as you normally would. If you cant, try to have soft foods and liquids containing the equivalent amount of carbohydrates that you usually consume.
  • Weigh yourself every day. Losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose.
  • Check your temperature every morning and evening. A fever may be a sign of infection.

Call your health care provider or go to an emergency room if any of the following happen to you:

  • You feel too sick to eat normally and are unable to keep down food for more than 6 hours.
  • You're having severe diarrhea.
  • You lose 5 pounds or more.
  • Your temperature is over 101 degrees F.
  • Your blood glucose is lower than 60 mg/dL or remains over 300 mg/dL.
  • You have moderate or large amounts of ketones in your urine.
  • You're having trouble breathing.
  • You feel sleepy or can't think clearly.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?

There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

Is the H1N1 swine flu virus the same as human H1N1 viruses?

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No. The H1N1 swine flu viruses are antigenically very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human seasonal flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.

Preparing for a Pandemic

One of the first steps in planning for a pandemic or other public health emergency is making sure you and your family, including pets, has a two-week supply of food, water and medication.

It may be very difficult to get to a store or the stores may be out of supplies, so it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. The Office of Health and Safety has prepared a sample shopping list that you can use a guide to prepare yourself and your family.

Read additional information to aid in the protection against the spread of Pandemic Influenza. The American Red Cross and CDC have teamed up and have preparedness information available.

Hand Hygiene in Emergency Situations

After an emergency, it can be difficult to find running water. However, it is still important to wash your hands to avoid illness or infection, especially when testing your blood glucose or treating a wound.

See the following for more information:

Source: CDC