Important information about swine flu
Swine flu is the common name given to a new strain of influenza (flu). It is called swine flu because it is thought to have originated in pigs, but this is not certain.
People with swine flu typically have a fever or high temperature (over 38°C) and may also have aching muscles, sore throat and/or a dry cough (see Symptoms). In other words, the symptoms are very similar to seasonal (regular) flu. Most people recover within a week, even without special treatment.
The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It has since become a pandemic, which means it has spread around the globe. It has spread quickly because it is a new type of flu virus that few, if any, people have full resistance to.
Flu pandemics are a natural event that occur from time to time. Last century, there were flu pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968, when millions of people died across the world.
In most cases the virus has proved relatively mild. However, around the world hundreds of people have died and it is not yet clear how big a risk the virus is. For this reason, and because all viruses can mutate to become more potent (stronger), scientists are saying we need to be careful.