That means that it is just another type of flu virus, just like that causes our typical seasonal flu symptoms. The big difference is that the current swine influenza A (H1N1) virus has components of pig and bird influenza viruses in it, so that humans don't have any immunity to it. That is what made it more likely that it would become a pandemic virus (have the ability to cause a global outbreak) because it could easily spread from person-to-person.
We do know that swine flu symptoms are just like seasonal flu symptoms.
Swine Flu Symptoms
According to the CDC, like seasonal flu, symptoms of swine flu infections can include:
- fever, which is usually high, but unlike seasonal flu, is sometimes absent
- runny nose or stuffy nose
- sore throat
- body aches
- fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
- diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes, but more commonly seen than with seasonal flu
Signs of a more serious swine flu infection might include pneumonia and respiratory failure.
If your child has symptoms of swine flu, you should avoid other people and call your pediatrician who might do a rapid flu test to see if he has an influenza A infection. Further testing can then be done to see if it is a swine flu infection. (Samples can be sent to local and state health departments and the CDC for confirmation of swine flu, especially if a child is in the hospital.)
Serious Swine Flu Symptoms
More serious symptoms that would indicate that a child with swine flu would need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Swine Flu Symptoms vs. a Cold or Sinus Infection
It is important to keep in mind most children with a runny nose or cough will not have swine flu and will not have to see their pediatrician for swine flu testing.
This time of year, many other childhood conditions are common, including:
- spring allergies - runny nose, congestion, and cough
- common cold - runny nose, cough, and low grade fever
- sinus infections - lingering runny nose, cough, and fever
- strep throat - sore throat, fever, and a positive strep test
What You Need To Know
- Swine flu likely spreads by direct contact with respiratory secretions of someone that is sick with swine flu, like if they were coughing and sneezing close to you.
- People with swine flu are likely contagious for one day before and up to seven days after they began to get sick with swine flu symptoms.
- Droplets from a cough or sneeze can also contaminate surfaces, such as a doorknob, drinking glass, or kitchen counter, although these germs likely don't survive for more than a few hours.
- Anti-flu medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), are available toprevent and treat swine flu.
CDC. Swine Influenza and You. Accessed April 2009.