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H1N1 INFLUENZA/SWINE FLU – Jammu Voice

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Syed Rafia Tabassum

H1N1 influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that causes symptoms of seasonal influenza in people.  It is also known as swine flu. It’s called swine flu because in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs, which changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn’t been near pigs. Various studies point towards a new strain of H1N1 virus: the Michigan strain, which has been in circulation since the end of 2016 and has replaced the earlier California strain. H1N1 influenza has claimed so many lives in J&K and other states.  On one hand Hospitals within Kashmir valley are deprived of basic testing & isolation facilities for such patients & on the other hand hospitals are signalling spike in such cases.  As such it becomes a grave concern for concerned agencies & needs immediate attention.

World health organization declared H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009 as the number was constantly on rising side. The first half of 2017 has seen a spurt in the number of deaths & infections caused by influenza A (H1N1) commonly known as swine flu in India. It has affected 12460 people and caused 600 deaths in the first half of 2017.

Signs & Symptoms

Just like any other flu, predominantly upper respiratory symptoms like cough, cold accompanied by the causal fever, headache, body ache, loss of appetite, sore throat, weakness and symptoms like uneasy stomach has been reported in many cases. Mild respiratory illness {Nasal congestion, rhinorrhea without fever and occasional severe disease also has been reported. Other symptoms reported with swine flu virus infectio n include vomiting, diarrhoea, myalgia headache, chills, fatigue and dyspnoea. Conjunctivitis is rare, but has been reported; severe disease pneumonia, respiratory failure and fatal outcomes have been reported.

People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flue include:

65 year and older, younger than 18 years, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease and people who are immune compromised {taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV}.

Management

If any person tests positive, all household members and close contacts should be treated simultaneously and kept watch for seven days, the time taken to build up body  immunity.

Some of the same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu also work against H1N1 swine flu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), Peramivir, Zanamivir seem to work best, although some kind of swine flu may not respond to Oseltamivir

The same flu vaccine that protects against seasonal flu protects against the H1N1 swine flu strain we can get it as a shot or as a nasal spray.

For symptomatic relief

For relief of fever, antipyretic medications such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, including nimesulide are recommended. Aspirin/ Aspirin, containing products should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected case of H1N1 infection in subjects aged 18 years or younger due to the rash of Reye’s syndrome.

Emergency warning signs:

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

• Fast breathing.

• Bluish or grey skin colour.

• Not drinking enough fluids.

• Sever or persistent vomiting.

• Not waking up or not interacting.

• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.

• Flue like symptoms with fever and worsens with cough.

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include

• Difficulty in breathing / shortness of breath.

• Pain/ pressure in the chest abdomen.

• Sudden dizziness.

• Severe/ persistent  vomiting

• Flu like symptoms with fever and worsens with cough.

While swine flu isn’t as scary as it seemed a few years ago, it is simply important to protect yourself by adopting following measures

• Wash hands with soap and water frequently. Use alcohol based sanitizers if hand washing is not convenient

• Sleep should be adequate {at least and hrs} for boosting immunity.

• Drink at least 10 glasses of water daily. This will not only keep you Hydrated but also help in getting rid of toxins in the body.

• Take coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts as they are known enhance immunity.

• One can also take antioxidants, multivitamins tables, in consultation with physician.

• 45 minutes of brisk walking yoga and exercise regularly can elevate body resistance.

• Surgical masks can provide a mechanical barrier against droplet infection. However it should cover both mouth & nose & should be disposed off after single use. If the mask is dump discard it immediately, in case a mask is not available a cotton handkerchief can be used.

• Stay away from crowded places as far as possible.

• Avoid eating exposed food, salads, & street stuff especially during monsoons.

• Stay at least 1metre away from sick people.

• Staying at home from work or school if you are sick.

The author is a tutor at Srinagar