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Top 10 Questions about Types of Flu Virus

Flu Information
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The two main types of human flu virus are type A and type B. These human flu viruses are responsible for the seasonal flu that affects many people each year. When a flu virus mutates and produces a new strain, this can result in serious illness and possibly a worldwide pandemic.

  1. What is type A flu virus?
    Type A flu viruses can infect animals and people, though it is more common among people. Wild birds and domestic fowl may often be the carriers of this type of influenza. Type A virus is constantly mutating and is usually the one responsible for widespread outbreaks of flu. Influenza type A2 is spread by people who are already infected.
  2. Is type B flu virus transmitted by animals?
    This type of flu virus is only found in humans. Type B flu virus causes less serious reactions than type A, although it can sometimes be quite severe. Type B flu viruses do not cause pandemics.
  3. What is type C flu virus?
    Type C virus is much weaker than the other two and is the one usually responsible for colds. Type C does not cause serious illness or epidemics.
  4. What is avian flu?
    The avian flu (also known as bird flu), is carried by birds even though they may not look sick. The virus is present in their excrement and can be inhaled and thereby infect human lungs. There are three main subtypes of bird flu; H5 and H7 are the most deadly and H9 which is not quite so severe.
  5. What is swine flu?
    H1N1 swine flu is a new virus causing illness and sometimes death in humans. This virus was first reported in the United States in April 2009 and has since risen to pandemic proportions. The virus' name “swine flu” stems from the fact that the new virus is very similar to a flu virus that occurs in pigs. However, research has shown that the virus does differ significantly from the flu viruses that normally circulate among pigs.
  6. What should I do if I think I have a type of flu?
    If you think you are suffering from flu symptoms or you are concerned about which flu treatment is right for you, you should speak to your health care physician.
  7. Is there a vaccine for seasonal flu viruses?
    There is a seasonal flu shot that is given as a needle in the arm. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved this vaccine for people between the age of six months and sixty five plus (although it may be slightly less effective in people who are older than sixty five). There is also a nasal spray vaccine but this can only be taken by people who are in good health and not those who are suffering from chronic illnesses, (such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma).
  8. Can a flu virus mutate?
    Yes. When a flu virus mutates and produces a new strain, this can result in serious illness and possibly a worldwide pandemic.
  9. How does a flu virus make me ill?
    Flu viruses enter your system through the mucus membranes in your nose, mouth or eyes. Each time you touch these parts of your face you could be infecting yourself with a flu virus.
  10. Can flu be life threatening?
    Each year, flu viruses cause around 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations in the United States alone. 

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