Swine flu should be considered as a possible diagnosis, in areas with confirmed cases, in patients who have flu-like signs and symptoms. The presenting signs and symptoms of swine flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, bodyache, nausea and vomiting.
If swine flu is suspected it should be confirmed by lab testing of a sample from the respiratory tract. Nasal, nasopharyngeal or throat swabs is taken for sampling. The sample is analyzed using the ‘Swine Influenza Test Kit.’ The sample is first analyzed for presence of influenza virus. If the preliminary tests show influenza A virus, another test is done to establish if the virus subtype is H1N1. The kit is not approved by the FDA but it is considered to be a fairly reliable test to detect the H1NI virus. Rarely the kit can give a false positive result.
Correct and confirmed diagnosis is needed to control the spread of the disease. Early diagnosis of swine influenza assists in appropriate treatment with antiviral drugs (such as oseltamavir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza)). Both these drugs are known to be effective against the subtype of virus that is causing swine influenza infections presently.