Swine Flu a highly contagious respiratory disease

Recently there has been increase in number of swine flu cases specially in various states of karnataka . In the past week, the number of cases has increased across the Shivamogga, Hassan and Dakshina Kannada districts .

What is Swine Flu : It’s a type of flu caused by Influenza virus. There are various types of influenza viruses like : Type A, B, C and they have various subtypes. Mostly type A and B are responsible of human infection

Swine Flu is caused by H1N1 subtype of type A influenza virus. It is called so because in past patients who acquired such infections had history of direct contact with Pigs, which is not true these days. In 2009 it was spreading fast amongst humans and WHO had declared panendemic, and since then though the number is gone down but people continue to get infected

Incidence: Influenza occurs globally with its incidence of 5-10% in adults and 20-30% in children. In Northern hemisphere its incidences increases from November to April, in southern from April to September, in temperate regions it occurs typically in winter and in tropical areas it almost occurs all round the year with peaks during rainy season.

Symptoms: are usual of flu like

  • Fever (but not always),Cough, Runny or stuffy nose, Watery, red eyes, Sore throat, Body aches, Headache, Fatigue, and in few cases it can also present as Diarrhea, Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe cases might have breathing difficulty,  pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome ( most common cause of death in swine flu- will be explained in details in upcoming article) drowsiness, siezures

Certain people are at higher risk of complications and severe disease. These are young children, pregnant females, patients with preexisting chronic conditions like Asthma, Heart Disease, elderly and elderly above 65 years of age.

Spread: Any flu virus can spread from person to person via droplets that contain tiny particles of viruses

It can spread when someone:

  • with the flu coughs or sneezes into air that others breathe in.
  • touches a doorknob, desk, computer, or counter with the flu virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.
  • touches mucus while taking care of a child or adult who is ill with the flu.

Prevention:

  • Stay home if you’re sick. If you have swine flu (H1N1 flu), you can give it to others. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Use soap and water, or if they’re unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inner crook of your elbow.
  • Whenever possible, avoid crowded enclosed spaces and close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections. Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment, may reduce the risk of acquiring illness. Ill persons should be encouraged to practise cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, wash hands).

Flu vaccine is available and its highly recommended for people at high risk or travelling to endemic area

Treatment for Flu is mostly symptomatic for flu patients like bed rest , antipyretics, analgesics, cough suppressants, lots of fluids. Proven or highly suspicious cases of swine flu can be prescribed antiviral drugs by doctors.

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