Deadly swine flu outbreak, in humans started from Mexico in April 2009. In such a short duration flu has affected people at global level and has triggered World Health Organization (WHO) to declare public health emergency. As per Margaret Chan, Director-General at WHO that this disease by definition is poorly understood and has pandemic potential. This article provides general awareness about the swine flu.
What is Swine Flu?
Swine flu is a new influenza virus H1 N1, causing illness in people
Why this new H1N1 virus is called “swine flu”?
Laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new H1N1 Virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America
Is this H1N1 virus contagious?
Yes, It can spread from one people to another people
What are the symptoms of Swine flu?
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, runny nose, chills and fatigue. Many people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Several illness and deaths have also occurred with swine flu infection.
Who is at the higher risk of Swine flu H1N1?
Pregnant women, young children, people with chronic medical conditions and people 65 and older
How do people become infected with swine flu?
Infection occurs from person to person through
- coughing or sneezing
- Touching infected hands and surfaces
What are the medications available to treat H1N1 virus infection?
There are four drugs approved in the US to treat the flu, but the virus has shown the resistance to the two oldest. Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and Relenza (Zanamivir) are recommended
Can I still eat and prepare pork?
Yes, you can eat pork and pork products which is properly handled and cooked
How can I protect myself from being infected?
As per Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated
What steps should I take if I get sick?
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- You should stay home
- Avoid contact with other people
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing
- Put your used tissue in the waste basket
When should I consult with health care practitioner?
If you become ill and experience any of the following symptoms, consult your Physician immediately
In children emergency warning signs
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
How should I handle waste disposal of persons infected with influenza virus?
Disposable items of infected person should be thrown in the trash and persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and waste
How can I prevent the spread of influenza virus at my home?
You can prevent the spread of influenza virus by keeping surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with disinfectant
How should I handle linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus?
Linens, eating utensils, and dishes of sick person do not need to be cleaned separately, but it is important that these items should not be shared without washing
- Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting
- Persons should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry
- Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap
What is the best way to wash my hands to avoid getting infected with flu?
You should wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used