A human infection with the “swine flu”, novel swine-origin flu case of variant H1N2 (H1N2v) in the state of Minnesota. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the patient was hospitalized as a result of their illness, but has fully recovered. An investigation is ongoing into the source of the patient’s infection and to determine if there are other epidemiologically-linked cases of H1N2v virus infection.

Image/Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Image/Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Pigs are commonly infected with swine influenza (“variant flu”) viruses that are usually different from human influenza viruses. While rare, influenza can spread from pigs to people and from people to pigs.

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with influenza viruses that normally circulate in swine and not people have occurred. When this happens, these viruses are called “variant viruses.”

In general, the severity of illnesses associated with variant influenza have been similar to seasonal influenza.

Influenza symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. Young children and the elderly may not develop fever. These symptoms can be severe and put you in bed for several days.

To date there is no sustained human-to-human transmission of novel swine-origin flu. However, influenza viruses have the capacity to change and it’s possible that this virus may become widespread. They are not transmissible by eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs.