It wasn’t long ago when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the emergence of variant influenza viruses—a new subtype of flu viruses normally circulating in pigs that have been shown to also affect humans. This has driven health experts to shine a spotlight on the importance of strengthened surveillance in both human and swine populations, thorough investigation, and pandemic preparedness.
Below, we have hashed out a few facts about variant influenza viruses as well as the specific steps you can take to protect yourself from them.
The symptoms of variant viral infections aren’t a lot different from those of the regular human seasonal flu: lack of appetite, coughing, fever, lethargy, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and runny nose.
How Variant Influenza Viruses Spread
Variant influenza viruses have been reported to infect people who have had direct exposure to infected pigs. When an infected pig sneezes or coughs, the droplets that carry the virus can travel through the air. A person can get infected when these droplets land in their mouth or nose, or get inhaled. There’s also some evidence suggesting that a person can contract the disease when they touch a contaminated surface and touch their mouth or nose. Nonetheless, scientists aren’t able to pinpoint which of these ways is the most common.
It’s worth mentioning that there are people with no known exposure to pigs who have also been infected with the virus, for which there is no clear explanation.
To date, there is no sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus; however, given the constantly evolving nature of viruses, variant influenza viruses could also change and precipitate widespread transmission.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
Protecting yourself from variant flu viruses entails taking the same precautionary measures as those for seasonal flu. These include washing your hands thoroughly, avoiding touching your mouth and nose, practicing good health habits, and—with the virus’ capability to result in person-to-person transmission— avoiding people who are sick.
Albeit seasonal flu vaccines aren’t giving as much protection as hoped for against this circulating strain, it’s always better to err on the side of caution: get up to date with your vaccinations. Additionally, let your doctor know if you suspect that you may have been exposed to the variant influenza virus.
Flu Vaccines in Fairless Hills, PA
At Patient Care Now Urgent Care, our commitment isn’t limited to providing first-rate urgent care. We offer an extensive range of ancillary services—including flu vaccines—so you can have your healthcare needs taken care of in one location.
Simply walk in—no need for appointment! If you have questions or to let us know you are coming, feel free to call our urgent care facility at (267) 202-6433. We’re eager to be your healthcare partner!