The swine flu has become a concern all over the world this year. It has affected people from the youngest to the oldest. So, who is most at risk for contracting the swine flu?
The swine flu is a new strain of the influenza A virus that was identified this year. It was nicknamed the swine flu because it contains some genes in common with the type of flu that affects pigs. But, you don't have to have any contact with pigs whatsoever to catch the swine flu.
At first, people were getting vaccinated with the seasonal flu because there was no vaccine for the swine flu. There was a possibility that you could keep the swine flu at bay with seasonal flu vaccine but there were no guarantees. The swine flu strain is dissimilar enough from the seasonal strain that your body hasn't built up any antibodies to fight it.
When the swine flu vaccine first shipped, there were certain groups that were advised to get in line first because of their risk factors. The same groups are also at risk for the seasonal flu.
Let's begin with children. Children under the age of six months are in one of the high risk groups. They have not been exposed to many germs yet in their lives. Also, when other conditions such as asthma and allergies are present their risk increases.
Pregnant women are also at risk for the swine flu. Their immune system is compromised somewhat due to them carrying a child. Illnesses like the flu can lead to miscarriages, premature births, pneumonia and other dangers to the unborn fetus.
While elderly people have not shown to a group greatly affected by the swine flu, those of advanced age who have other conditions present have an upgraded risk. These other conditions include: COPD, liver or kidney problems, asthma, cardiovascular issues, metabolic issues like obesity and anything that suppresses their immune system. When complicated by such problems, the flu can prove severe and life threatening. This group also includes young and middle aged adults with such conditions.
Health care workers are among the groups asked to get the vaccine. With the variety of patients seen in the hospital, nursing homes and other patient care facilities, the exposure to the swine flu is greater than most. Also, day care workers fall into this category because of their exposure to lots of children.
If you are in a high risk group identified by the CDC and/or your health department, don't panic. The recommendation is that you receive the swine flu vaccine to reduce your chances of getting the swine flu even when you are exposed. As long as you take care of yourself and follow standard precautions, your risk may go down.
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