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Swine flu: Symptoms & precautions

As the cases of Swine flu infections are on a rise in India the government has issued its directives on the deadly A(H1N1) human influenza. The World Health Organisation has already declared as the worst pandemic in last 41 years.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi, June 12: As the cases of Swine flu infections are on a rise in India the government has issued its directives on the deadly A (H1N1) human influenza. The World Health Organisation has already declared as the worst pandemic in last 41 years.
Origin

Swine Flu is a respiratory disease, caused by a strain of the influenza virus known as H1N1.

Although, H1N1 is the same strain that causes seasonal outbreaks of flu in humans, the latest type is different as it is a mutated version containing genetic material that is generally found in strains of the virus that affect humans, birds and swine (pigs).

What has happened this time is that the flu viruses from humans and pigs have swapped genetic components with each other, and evolved into a completely new variety – Hence the absence of any concrete treatment plan for it.

Although the strain may have originated in pigs, it is now a wholly human disease and is being transmitted person-to-person.

Symptoms:

The first symptoms of swine flu are fever (greater than 100°F or 37.8°C), sore throat, body ache and fatigue. Some patients have also complained about running nose, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Persons who have travelled overseas recently should be extra cautious and seek medical help immediately if they have these symptoms.

But these symptoms alone would not suggest that a person is infected by Swine Flu, as it can be confirmed only after testing a respiratory specimen, that’s taken from the suspected case within the first four to five days.

So it is important to seek medical help if one feels that he/she has flu.

Precautions:

As the flu is now spreading by people-to-people to contact, the infection primarily spreads when a person comes in close contact with an infected person. The simple way to minimise the risk is by covering the mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing and wearing a mask while going close to the infected person.

Maintaining high level of hygiene is also important and one should always wash hands frequently with soap and water.

Since influenza spreads through both air and contact with contaminated surfaces, surface sanitizing may help prevent some infections. For that alcohol is an effective sanitizer, bleach can also be used to sanitize rooms or equipment that have been occupied by patients with influenza symptoms.

Treatment

People with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu.

However, the best way would be to get in touch with your doctor, who can help you get the right treatment.

Preventive medications are not advisable as it may lead to the development of resistance to the only known effective drug Tamiflu – the government of India has adequate stock of the drug.

Emergency Help

If any person has all or any of the above mentioned symptoms he/she should not panic and get themselves tested in any of the government hospitals.

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