How Does a Person Catch Swine Flu?

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

What is swine flu, and how is swine flu different from other kinds of flu? How does a person catch swine flu?

Swine flu is a respiratory illness of pigs caused by infection with swine influenza A virus (SIV) that can occasionally affect humans. The disease first came to attention in 1976 with the death of an army recruit from swine flu. Widespread fear then led to an often-criticized mass inoculation program in the United States that resulted in illnesses and deaths.