By now, you must be knowing H1N1, or swine flu virus spreading throughout the U.S. and around the world. The World Health Organization(WHO) expects more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths in the coming flu season. Reports also say that half of world population could be infected with swine flu this fall and winter and deaths would proportionate.
What you need to know:
This new influenza virus spreads from human to human the same way seasonal flu does; i.e. through coughing and sneezing or by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.
Symptoms of swine flu?
- Symptoms of seasonal flu
- fever, chills, headache, coughing, nausea, diarrhea, and back and muscle pain
Note that some people infected with H1N1 do not develop a fever; their symptoms may be limited to a runny nose and a headache,
How much you should worry:
Most tracked swine-flu cases have been fairly mild, however the H1N1 virus carries a higher risk for people with fragile immune systems such as infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who have immune deficiency diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
What if someone finds himself/herself affected:
- Do what you should have done in case of a normal flu. Stay home, get enough rest, drink plenty of water and other fluids. Avoid contact with others, except to require medical care.
- It is expected that most people affected by swine flu will recover without needing medical care. However immediate attention needs to be paid for those who fall into one of the high-risk categories mentioned above. They must see a doctor. H1N1 virus can only be diagnosed by a respiratory lab test.
- If the symptoms include chest or abdominal pains, trouble breathing, dizziness or continuous vomiting, a physician must be contacted immediately.
Should I keep my child home if the flu is going around their school?
If you have school-going children, make them focus attention on hygienic defenses, including frequent hand-washing and covering one’s mouth with an arm, not a hand, when coughing.
If a child does develop flu-like symptoms, parents are advised to keep them out of school. However, it is safe for them to return to school 24 hours after their fever breaks.
Precautions you can take:
- Wash your hands frequently to kill germs and bacteria. Use alcohol-based sanitizers or regular soap and warm water.
- Only if helping a patient, wear face masks to protect yourself from contracting the virus. Wearing face mask is not recommended otherwise.
- Avoid travelling and moving in crowed places.
- Follow the general instructions issued by the Government agencies.
Cure for Swine Flu:
Most people have recovered without any medication. For initial stage symptoms, Tamiflu has been prescribed in many cases to ease symptoms. Remember that these drugs are not immunizations, and are only used to treat people whose swine flu is complicated by underlying medical conditions.
Swine flu vaccines are ready:
The Food and Drug Administration in the USA has approved the new swine flu vaccine and doses are ready to be shot. Clinical trials are showing that the new H1N1 vaccine protects with only one dose. So far, no serious side effects have been reported. Australia and UK have also done their preparations for the vaccine shots.
Who should get swine flu vaccine?
The higher risk group:
- Pregnant women
- Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
- Health care and emergency medical services personnel
- Children from 6 months through 4 years of age
- People aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
When in doubt reach out to a doctor before taking any further steps.