Swine flu has been given a significant amount of attention in the media in recent months as healthcare workers and the general public prepare for the next wave of flu infection to hit the US
Understanding how the flu virus can cause infection in the body and the resulting symptoms can greatly increase your chances of detecting the virus early on to minimize the potential complications that can arise.
There are a lot of articles on the web right now that play into the media attention being given to Swine Flu. These articles emphasize the risks of contracting Swine Flu, the death rates in countries with minimal health care, and the need to protect the population from this flu.
But what is a virus? How does a virus work? How does it go about making us sick?
It's good to know the death rates and risk of the virus, but we also need to have an idea of what to expect when we contract a virus. Knowing how the virus goes about infecting the cell and causing damage to the body gives us an indication of ways we can prevent the virus from attacking us in the future.
We also need to know the symptoms of viral infection. Just informing people that there is a risk of swine flu infection is not helpful. People need to understand the symptoms that are expressed when we contract the Swine Flu, and the symptoms of potential complications to the flu that need to be watched for.
Viruses are basically just a set of genetic information collected in a protective coating that uses a host cell to reproduce. As they do this, they cause negative effects in the body that we perceive as illness.
There are multiple types of viruses out there, but the flu virus tends to get the most attention. It can make us sick as a dog, giving us chills, head aches, muscle aches, and general misery for weeks at a time. We try to prevent catching the flu by washing our hands, staying in during flu season, and taking our flu shots when they become available.
So why are not flu shots always effective? What is it about Swine Flu that is so horrible? How can we prevent this disease? Is there anything we can do to treat Swine Flu if we have caught it? Who is at risk for this illness?
Again, lots of media attention has been given to death rates in 3rd World countries, complications from the flu, and the increasing panic of people thinking they are at risk for contracting the flu. There are even signs up in the airports warning passengers of the risk of Swine Flu. But do we really understand it?
There are a few articles I've found that give detailed information on the processes a virus uses to infect a host cell, the ways it makes us sick, and provides good information for those who are at risk for contracting the virus and those area already sick. They also discusses the current hunt for an effective vaccine against Swine Flu and the debate the government is currently having over releasing the vaccine without typical safety testing. Check them out if you want to know more!