What Are the Differences Between Bird Flu and Swine Flu?

by barbarab

There are so many letters and numbers connected to these two influenza types; what exactly are the similarities and the differences?

Types of influenza virus

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are three differents types of influenza virus. They are A, B and C. There are also two types of the A virus; bird and swine flu virus. The C type virus will not cause a pandemic and therefore there is not a vacine to protect against it.

The CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)  research the different samples of the viruses around the world and decides which viruses will likely occur again. From there, it is up to each country to decide what they will include in their yearly vaccine. In the United States, the FDA decides this. Having the same vaccine two seasons in a row is unusual but not uncommon. This has happenend eight times, actually, since 1969. For the season of 2011 to 2012 the influenza vaccine will contain the same virus protection as the season for 2010 to 2011. This does not mean we will receive "left over vaccine" from the same batch as last season. Just as we lose a little bit of immunity year by year the vaccine itself has a short shelf life. The expiration date is usually anywhere between March to May of the season for which it is being used.

Research to determine what viruses are prevalent during the year is done in over 106 countries with 136 different laboratories compiling the research. From there each CDC in every country continues the study. Finally, the vaccine is made, distributed and administered beginning as early as September of every year.

Back to the original question

What is the difference?

The symptoms of influenza remain the same, regardless of whether it is type A, B or C. Who cares what kind it is, when you are sick all you care about is getting well.

This is all true and the writing down of facts is a mental exercise only. However, it is helpful to write down the specifics in order to understand what is in the vaccine itself.

Regardless of what kind of virus is detected with the culture, the symptoms are headache, body aches, cough, sneezing, congestion, fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, dizziness and sweating. The flu seems to occur withut any warning so rapid is the onset of symptoms. Usually, all of the symptoms are gone in a little over a week.

It becomes, then, a matter of symantics about the differences between the types of flu. Influenza A separates into H1N1 and H3N2 or bird and swine influenza. These types are passed from bird to human and swine to human. In the last part of August, 2011, two children under five years of age were diagnosed with swine flu (H3N2) and both had been exposed to pigs/hogs before the onset of symptoms. Both had already recovered by Labor day Weekend.

So, there is no difference in how the two kinds of influenza A virus' affects you. The difference is only in how you contract the virus in the first place. Also, there is little to be done as far as prevention except to perform ggod hygiene cotrol and of course, obtain the flu shot as soon as it becomes available.

Updated: 09/02/2011, barbarab
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barbarab on 09/03/2011

thank you Caroline!

ohcaroline on 09/03/2011

Excellent information. Good to know.

barbarab on 09/03/2011

yes and there are new things to learn every season isnt there?

Holistic_Health on 09/03/2011

This is particularly timely as flu season is almost upon us. Thank you!

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