Prevent Swine Flu

How to prevent Swine flu:

Take vaccines. These vaccines keep undergoing changes depending on the current viruses. Since it takes 6 months to produce a vaccine, the vaccine available now is based on the likely viral types as seems most likely from last influenza season.

Children > 6 months of age, older adults >65 yrs, pregnant woman, asthmatics, Chronic liver, heart and kidney disease patients, those suffering from neurological illnesses should certainly take vaccines.

Treatment with antiviral drugs are recommended in all these cases as they suffer more complications.

Health care workers are more likely to come in contact with flu patients and should be vaccinated.

Personal protective measures:

Stay away from people suffering from infectious respiratory illness.

Wash hands often with soap and water or if not available alcohol based solutions.

Do not touch eyes, mouth or nose often.

Use a handkerchief or tissue during sneezing or coughing. Disposable tissues are better.

After an episode of fever do not go to school or work place till the temperature is normal for > 1 day without antipyretics.


Swine Flu

Swine Flu

It is also known as H1N1 viral influenza A or simply as H1N1 Influenza.

The last big pandemic was in 2009. Nowadays it occurs off and on in India and other countries mainly during flu season.

Fever usually more than 100o F is common. It is accompanied by a sore throat, running nose, cough, headache and muscle pains. Shivering may occur as do vomiting and loose motions.

Individuals both very young and very old as well as pregnant women are at high risk of complications. Similarly, those with other debilitating conditions: malignancy, asthma, smokers, HIV +ve patients and those who have low immunity due to various drugs and disease may develop severe complications.

About 10 % persons may have no symptoms. Fever may not occur in some cases.

The complications may occur in about 20 % cases. These are in the form of failure of gas exchange by lungs, low BP, altered level or lack of consciousness, fits, liver and kidney failure etc. 

The diagnosis is made by both nasopharynx and throat (combined) real time reverse transcriptase (rt RTPCR) which is nearly always positive. Chest X Rays can show pneumonia.

In some cases, superadded bacterial infections occur a few days later and complicate the illness.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment with antiviral drugs reduces complications. The drugs used are Oseltamivir and Zanamivir. The doses are different for children. These drugs are also used for prevention of infection after and before contact with swine flu patients.

The spread is by droplets (during coughing and sneezing ) and close contact. Patients should be diagnosed early to prevent the spread of the disease.