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Swine flu awareness

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Introduction

Recently, H1N1 influenza has made news across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) and countries across the globe are taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza and create a vaccine to fight against this virus. However, each day new cases are being reported in various countries including India.

According to the WHO, 125 countries have reported 89,921 confirmed swine flu cases. There have been 382 deaths worldwide, most of them being in Mexico and the US. In India, 871 persons have been tested till the 1st week of July, of which 129 were positive for influenza A H1N1.Lets spend few minutes in understanding how we can prevent the spread of this infection.

What is Influenza A(H1N1)?

Influenza is an acute viral infection that affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and, occasionally, lungs.

There are three types of influenza viruses: Type A, B, and C.

Type A influenza viruses are further classified into subtypes based on the different kinds and combinations of virus surface proteins. One such subtype of influenza A virus is Influenza A(H1N1).

The influenza caused by the A(HINI) was commonly referred to as Swine Flu.

Transmission

The influenza A(HIN1) virus appears to be as contagious as seasonal influenza, and is spreading fast particularly among young people in the age group of 10 to 45.

it is transmitted to a healthy person when the person inhales or comes in contact with the droplets or small particles that are expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms

The severity of the Infection ranges from very mild symptoms to severe illnesses that can result in death. The symptoms are similar to a seasonal flu, such as:

Fever

Cough

Headache

Muscles aid joints pain

Sore throat

Running nose

Occasional vomiting and diarrhea

Majority of the people who contract the virus experience the wild symptoms and recover without antiviral treatment or medical care. Of the more serious cases, more than half of hospitalized people had underlying health conditions or weak immune systems.

Treatment

Antiviral drugs are used to treat influenza A(Hl NI) infections. Antiviral drugs reduce the symptoms and duration of illness and may also contribute to preventing severe complications and death.

There are two classes of antiviral drugs for influenza:

Inhibitors of neuraminidase such as oseltamivir and zanamivir.

Adamantanes, such as amantadine and rimantadine

Tests on viruses obtained from patients in Mexico and the United States have indicated that H1N1 viruses are sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors. However, the H1N1 viruses are resistant to adamantine.

You should take an antiviral drug only if your doctor advises you to do so. You should not buy anti viral medicines without a prescription to prevent or fight

For Healthy Individuals

To prevent getting infected by the H1N1 virus, WHO recommends the following precautions:

Avoid close contact and maintain a distance of about one metre with people who show influenza-like symptoms.

Avoid touching your mouth or nose.

Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly, especially if you are touching the mouth or nose, or possibly contaminated surfaces.

Use alcohol-based hand rub, if you don't have immediate access to soap and water.

Avoid crowded areas as far as possible.

Improve airflow in your living space by opening windows.

Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.

Ensure that hard surfaces, such as door handles, switches, taps and toilet flush handles, telephone receivers, etc. are cleaned frequently and thoroughly using disinfectants.

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