Swine Flu H1N1
Swine Flu Trivia
Swine is a type of influenza A virus which is spread in an epidemic fashion. It is the most common cause of flu infection in India at present. It is a respiratory illness characterized by fever, sore throat, dry cough, cold and sometimes loose stools. The disease lasts 4 – 5 days but may leave a person with a few more days of dry cough and extreme exhaustion
20% of the disease is transmitted directly by coughing and sneezing, whereas 80% of the virus is deposited on surfaces and subsequently transmitted by touching the surface and taking your hands close to your nose and mouth
The virus survives several hours on surfaces and clothes and can be transmitted by hands
Since it is carried by droplets and not air-borne the virus falls within a range of one meter from an infected person. Staying a meter away from a sick person generally minimizes transmission
Over 99.5% of cases are self-limited, less than 0.5% run into complications. So treatment is not required for most cases
To prevent transmission it helps if a sick person wears a mask rather than the healthy person in his vicinity
Since the virus keeps mutating, every year the circulating viral strain differs. So previous infection or vaccination is not effective in preventing infections in the subsequent years
The WHO has surveillance centers all over the world which monitor the circulating strains of virus and recommend what strains the vaccine for the succeeding year should have. Generally 3 to 4 strains are included in the vaccination which varies between the northern and the southern hemisphere. The vaccine is released worldwide before the winter (Sep or Oct each year)
The vaccine is 65 to 70% effective in preventing infection
There are two types of vaccine available – live attenuated and killed. The live attenuated is a nasal vaccine squirted into the nostril. It is not recommended for asthmatics, pregnant women and people with compromised immune system. It is as effective as the parenteral vaccine
The killed vaccine is recommended for all over the age of 6 months. It is safe for even patients with immune deficiency or on immune-suppressive medicines like steroids. For children under 3 years, half the adult dose is given (0.25ml). When given for the first time to children under 9 years, two doses at one monthly interval is advised. For all others an annual dose is recommended. The vaccine is generally effective only for one year and annual vaccines are therefore mandatory.
Pregnant women cannot use the live vaccine. The killed injectable vaccine is recommended beyond 20 weeks for pregnant women. The complications of swine flu are greater in pregnant women. Expectant mothers need to stay away from sick family members. Frequent washing of hands is advised. Hand sanitizer is a practical option. “Hands away from face” should be the watchword
Children under the age of 5yrs are at higher risk of complications. They should be encouraged to wash hands frequently and not touch all surfaces. Sick children and adults (those with cough, cold, fever and sore throat) should stay at home to prevent spreading the disease to others. They should be taught ‘cough etiquette’ where the person should cough into the crook of his elbows to prevent spreading the droplets.
Swine Flu Tips
Awareness needs to be created to safeguard individuals & their families from the impact of HINI (Swine Flu)
- Cover your mouth and nose whenever you sneeze and cough.
- Wash your hands frequently with either soap or water or alcohol based sanitisers.
- Consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms (fever, cough, running nose, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhoea).
- Stay at home.
- Have adequate sleep, nutritious food and plenty of oral fluids.
- Namaste is better than a handshake.
- Don't panic.
- Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth unnecessarily.
- Don't undertake unnecessary travel.
- Avoid crowded places like Mall, Railway Station etc., if possible.