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My Child Got Swine Flu At The Fair, And There Weren’t Even Any Pigs!
It does seem strange, doesn’t it? Your child comes down with an illness after the state fair; but there weren’t any pigs there. You don’t suspect it’s swine flu, because why would you? Swine flu comes from swine, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no.
The H1N1 virus is that which is traditionally characterized as swine flu, though there are a number of other strains which also characterize this specific strain of influenza. It’s called swine flu because it’s traditionally associated with pigs, but this strain of influenza has had outbreaks among the general population before. In the early 20th century it was called “Spanish Flu“.
Pigs and humans are very similar, biologically, making transition between species easy for this strain of influenza. But it isn’t usually passed pig-to-human. Certainly, an initial incursion is necessary for the pandemic to break out among regular human populations; but once the pandemic breaks out, it is spread the same way any old flu bug is:
- Through Fluid Contact
- Particulate Infected Moisture That’s Inhaled
- Poor Eating/Exercise Habits Leading To Compromised Immune Systems
- Poor Hygiene
- Extreme Youth/Advanced Age
- Unprotected Contact With Diverse People Groups
When you take your children to the fair, you’re exposing them to hundreds and hundreds of people. You don’t know where those people have been, how healthy their regular living habits are, or whether or not they’re even ill. The thing about influenza is, it takes a few hours–even days in some cases–for symptoms to manifest. This means people can be infected and contagious without even knowing it. One of the reasons for this is the body’s facility fighting off infection. Your body generally fights off hundreds of thousands of microbial interlopers on a daily basis. When your immune system is strong, there’s no issue. Just by breathing, microbial pathogens are regularly ingested inside of you. When you get sick, your immune system has been compromised before contact with pathogens.
Avoiding Compromising Your Immune System
If your child has taken ill from a trip to the fair, if you take them to the doctor and find out they’ve contracted H1N1–the swine flu–don’t immediately expect they’ve eaten bad pork or jumped into a mud-wrestling match between boars. They could have just turned the corner into the atomized remnants of an infected individual’s sneeze. What is likely is that before you ever went to the fair, your child did–or neglected to do–something which weakened his or her immune system. In adults, one of the prime culprits of weakened immune systems is vice, like excessive smoking or drinking. With children, this could translate to the avoidance of healthy foods in lieu of candy, too much sedentary time in front of the screen watching TV/surfing the internet/playing video games, or poor hygiene. When your hygiene isn’t “up to snuff”, it forces your immune system to work harder, making it easier to get sick.
Just like any other strain of the flu, swine flu is acquired through a combination of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a weakened immune system. There’s no real way to prevent it outside conventional health measures like exercise, proper eating, and hygiene. If you’re doing these things regularly, and your body is in good health, then the only other measure of prevention you can take is an inoculation of the vaccine variety; but be sure only to do this when you or your child’s body is in good health. Vaccines introduce inert/weakened antigens, and your body needs to be healthy to benefit.