Dear doting parents!! What is Swine flu? Or more so, what is H1N1? This question seems to come back to haunt us again within a span of three years or so!
So, let us in this window of information try and understand some basic and important facts about this disease which seems to be creating havoc in the general public.
“Swine flu” influenza or H1N1 influenza is a viral disease caused by a type of influenza virus resulting in an acute respiratory illness. The name swine flu was accorded to this disease because the virus that was found was similar to the influenza virus that occurs in pigs in North America.
This is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus from respiratory secretions from acutely infected individuals. It can be transmitted by the following routes: aerosols generated by a cough and sneezes, Hand to hand contact and another personal contact. Swine flu presents very abruptly in humans. A person presents with sudden onset of symptoms like fever, sore throat, body pain, chills, and cough. These complaints must be taken more seriously if there is a history of travel to a place where the infection is prevalent.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, then it is advised that you see your physician immediately. The hallmark of swine is the rapid progression of symptoms.
Warning signs in children:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- 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
Here I would like to address some commonly asked questions:
Can I get infected with this new H1N1 virus from eating or preparing pork?
No. H1N1 virus is not spread by food. You cannot get this new HIN1 virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products are safe.
Is there a risk from drinking water?
Recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate the virus.
What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodine-based antiseptics also destroy the virus.
Parents who are unwell are advised to avoid close contact. Periodic washing of hands and avoiding close contact will help in preventing the spread of the disease. Try and keep a distance of at least 1 meter. Aerosols spread the virus in any environment.
Treatment and diagnosis modalities are available in all tertiary care centers. The drug that is used in the treatment and prevention is called oseltamivir. The use of this drug is strictly on the direction of your physician. For children above one year, a weight recommended dose is given.
Vaccination is available for Swine Flu, but again it should be administered only under the direction of your physician. It is an inactivated influenza vaccine In the pediatric age group, any individual above six months of age can be administered the vaccine. Be advised, once the vaccine is administered, it takes anywhere between fifteen days to three weeks for the vaccination to become effective.
Health care workers, close family, and friends of infected individuals are advised to take the vaccination.
Owing to the character of the disease it is prudent to tend to the early signs of infection, but there is no need to panic and worry yourselves.