Influenza, more commonly known by its shorter name flu, is an acute infection of the lower or upper respiratory tract caused by any of the influenza viruses. The three major types of influenza viruses are the influenza A, influenza B and the influenza C. These viruses although similar in nature, are composed of different strains such that getting a vaccination from one type of influenza virus will not protect you from another type of influenza virus.
Meanwhile the swine flu, which is properly the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus, is a variation of the influenza virus, as it consists of four components, namely the avian flu, influenza flu, and two kinds of swine flu. Because of its swine flu origins and similarities to the swine flu when the virus was first examined, it was nicknamed as "swine flu".
Within twenty-four hours of the virus entering the body, the influenza virus becomes contagious, even if the symptoms are not yet evident on the carrier. The individual is still capable of infecting others with his virus for a period of six to ten days.
According to Richard Wenzel, a professor and the chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia, the incubation period of the swine flu virus is two to seven days. This means that although an individual is infected with the swine flu, the symptoms will not begin to show until after the two to seven day period. Once infected with the virus, Dr. Wenzel says that adults will be infectious for one week while children will be infectious for up to three weeks.
The influenza virus is transmitted from one individual to another by droplets containing the virus, which are spread in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Persons coming within three feet of the infected person are susceptible of being infected with the influenza virus, especially if the droplets land on the nose, mouth or eyes of such persons.
According to the World Health Organization, the swine flu virus is transmitted in the same manner as other forms of the influenza virus, which is through droplets containing the virus. Hence the emphasis on the protection of the mucus membranes, specifically the nose, mouth and eyes, at the height of swine flu pandemic in 2009.
According to a study the influenza or flu virus attacks up to forty percent of the American population on a yearly basis, particularly from November to April. Symptoms of the flu are the presence of high fever for a three to four day period, headaches, bodily pain and an overall feeling of fatigue that lasts anywhere from two to three weeks. Less common symptoms of the flu are congested nasal passages, sneezing, sore throat and coughing.
The swine flu is also marked by the common influenza symptoms of fever, headache and body pain. However, what sets the swine flu virus apart is that it causes those infected with the virus to vomit experience diarrhea.