Swine influenza, also known as swine flu, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by Type-A influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tracts of pigs. Swine influenza viruses are mostly found in pigs. However, occasionally, they have also been found to be spread among humans who have direct contact with infected pigs.
The swine influenza disease spreads in humans usually through two routes: pig-to-human transmission and human-to-human transmission. Pig-to-human transmission occurs mostly in farms where humans are in direct contact with infected pigs, and hence, these people usually take precaution of using face masks. Human-to-human transmission occurs when humans carrying influenza virus cough or sneeze, and spread the virus. It is then inhaled by other humans. Fever, body ache, headache, runny nose, fatigue, and vomiting are a few symptoms of the swine influenza disease. Based on viral surface antigens, Type-A influenza viruses are classified as: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). There exist four types of Type-A influenza viruses and they are as follows:
The respiratory infection in humans is caused by H1N1 influenza virus. For instance, in 1988, swine flu infection in Wisconsin resulted in multiple cases of swine flu in humans.
Based on antiviral drug therapeutics, the swine influenza market can be segmented into three major segments:
- Tamiflu: Also referred to as oseltamivir phosphate, Tamilflu is available in the form of capsules. These are used to prevent or lessen the spread of Type-A influenza virus.
- Relenza: Also known as Zanamivir, Relenza is used to treat Type-A and Type-B influenza virus infection by blocking the action of neuraminidase. It is an enzyme produced by the influenza virus, which spreads from already infected cells to healthy cells.
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- Peramivir: This drug has been developed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of influenza virus. In 2009 pandemic of H1N1 influenza, Peramivir was authorized for emergency use in the treatment of infected patients. This drug has been approved in Japan and South Korea.
In terms of geography, the global swine influenza market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America dominates the global swine influenza market, followed by China. Major driving factors for the swine influenza market in these regions are high prevalence of infection and development of several novel drugs that have helped in the treatment of swine influenza. Both developed and developing countries are vulnerable to the threat caused by swine influenza in humans. Asia Pacific is one of the most lucrative markets for swine influenza, owing to presence of developing economies in the region. Key factors likely to augment the swine influenza market in Asia Pacific in the next few years are weak immune systems of people in the region and increasing rate of past history infections. For instance, the 2009 swine flu pandemic affected around 394,133 people in Asia with 2,137 confirmed deaths. Moreover, easy market penetration and increasing government aid are estimated to fuel the swine influenza market in the region in the near future.
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Some of the key players operating in the global swine influenza market are GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, AstraZeneca PLC, Vical Incorporated, Baxter International, Inc., Celltrion, Inc., Lipoxen PLC, Novavax, Inc., and Medicago, Inc.