Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Important information about swine flu

Swine flu is the common name given to a new strain of influenza (flu). It is called swine flu because it is thought to have originated in pigs, but this is not certain. Swine flu (swine influenza) is a respiratory disease caused by viruses (influenza viruses) that infect the respiratory tract of pigs and result in nasal secretions, a barking-like cough, decreased appetite, and listless behavior. The viruses name is H1N1 virus.

Swine flu produces most of the same symptoms in pigs as human flu produces in people. Swine flu can last about one to two weeks in pigs that survive. Swine influenza virus was first isolated from pigs in 1930 in the U.S. and has been recognized by pork producers and veterinarians to cause infections in pigs worldwide.

Symptoms

So far, most swine flu cases have been mild, with symptoms similar to those of seasonal flu. Only a small number of people have had more serious symptoms.

If you or a member of your family has a fever or high temperature (over 38°C/100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms, you may have swine flu:
  • Unusual tiredness,
  • Cough
  • Headache,
  • Runny nose,
  • Sore throat,
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breathes or coughs,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Aching muscles,
  • Diarrhea or vomiting.
How dangerous is it?

It is difficult to judge this at the moment. Like any other type of flu, people can die from swine flu if they develop complications, such as pneumonia. There have been deaths, but for most infected people the symptoms have not been severe. It appears that early doses of antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza are effective in helping people to recover.

Pandemic

The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It has since become a pandemic, which means it has spread around the globe. It has spread quickly because it is a new type of flu virus that few, if any, people have full resistance to.

Flu pandemics are a natural event that occurs from time to time. Last century, there were flu pandemics in 1930, when millions of people died across the world.

In most cases the virus has proved relatively mild. However, around the world hundreds of people have died and it is not yet clear how big a risk the virus is. For this reason, and because all viruses can mutate to become more potent (stronger), scientists are saying we need to be careful.

Can novel H1N1 swine flu be prevented with a vaccine?

The best way to prevent novel H1N1 swine flu would be the same best way to prevent other influenza infections, and that is vaccination. The CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US agency charged with tracking and investigating public health trends) has multiple recommendations for vaccination based on who should obtain the first doses when the vaccine becomes available (to protect the most susceptible populations) and according to age groups. The CDC based the recommendations on data obtained from vaccine trials and infection reports gathered over the last few months. The current (October 2009) vaccine recommendations from the CDC say the following groups (Swine Flu High Risk Groups) should get the vaccine as soon as it is available:
  • Pregnant women,
  • People who live with or provide care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • Health-care and emergency medical services personnel,
  • People between 6 months and 24 years of age, and
  • People from the ages of 25 through 64 who are at higher risk because of chronic health disorders such as asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.
Although five companies are making H1N1 swine flu shots, including Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis, GSK, Medimmune and CSL, doctors won't be able to directly order swine flu vaccine from them. Instead, the federal government is purchasing all of the swine flu shots and then is distributing them via a centralized distribution program. Pediatricians and other health care providers can order swine flu vaccine if they want to receive swine flu vaccine to give their patients.

As with ordinary flu, people who come down with swine flu should take lots of rest and use standard paracetamol-based cold remedies to reduce their temperature and help relieve symptoms.

Some of the over-the-counter treatments used by adults can be given to children for the relief of the symptoms of flu, in line with the instructions supplied with each medicine. However, children under 16 must not be given aspirin or ready-made flu remedies containing aspirin. It is important to always read the label or check with the pharmacist that a medicine is suitable for use in children.

How to prevent from swine flu?

Preventing the spread of germs is the most effective way to slow the spread of diseases such as swine flu. You should always:
  • Ensure everyone washes their hands regularly with soap and water,
  • Clean surfaces regularly to get rid of germs,
  • Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and
  • Put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.
  • Cleaning hard surfaces, such as door handles, often and thoroughly using a normal cleaning product

That is the little explanation about Swine Flu. I hope this information be useful for everyone whose read it. Simple things to do are healthier life and don’t panic.

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