Swine Flu or the new H1N1 is spreading like wild fire in many parts of India. Till Tuesday, there are 8 reported deaths due to this virus with about 959 confirmed cases. Out of 959 positive cases, 563 infected people have been discharged from different hospitals after treatment.
The media, both electronic and print are ignoring this fact and as usual are concentrating more on the 'death' part of this disease. Unfortunately, at present, there is no vaccine for H1N1 and the Indian government expects to have a vaccine for Swine flu within next 6 months (December or January).
The Swine flu is becoming pandemic, not due to lack of awareness but because of wrong half-truths and unnecessary paranoia created by the media. Just today, while coming to office, I found many people especially women using their scarf or pallu to cover their nose and mouth. They are possibly not aware of the fact that that the scarf or pallu may be infected while travelling. The so-called masks are also ineffectual to prevent the virus.
Even Maharashtra government has issued advisories to people to desist from using disposable masks as its improper disposal could spread the H1N1 virus. Instead, the general public has been asked to use handkerchief as a protective gear to prevent swine flu infection. The state government has also asked pharmacies and drugstores not to sell disposable masks, without prescription.
So what is a H1N1 or Swine flu? The 2009 flu pandemic is a global outbreak of a new strain of influenza virus; officially named the 'new H1N1', first identified in April 2009 and commonly called 'Swine flu'.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that most cases worldwide have been mild so far and most hospitalisations and deaths of the infected people had underlying conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.
So far there are 216,285 positive cases across the world with 1,827 deaths due to the flu. The virus typically spreads from cough and sneeze or by touching contaminated surface and then touching the nose or mouth.
The signs of infection with swine flu are similar to other forms of influenza or flu which has symptoms of fever, cough, headache, pain in the muscles or joints, sore throat, chills, fatigue and runny nose. Diarrhoea, vomiting and neurological problems have also been reported in some cases.
Certain symptoms may require emergency medical attention. In children signs of respiratory distress, for instance, those might include blue lips and skin, dehydration, rapid breathing, excessive sleeping, seizures and significant irritability that include a lack of desire to be held.
In adults, shortness of breath, pain in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness or confusion may indicate the need for emergency care. In both children and adults, persistent vomiting or the return of flu-like symptoms that include a fever and cough may require medical attention.
Remedies: To begin with, personal hygiene like frequently wash your hands with soap, have a balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, have sufficient sleep, regularly exercise and avoid getting visiting crowded places.
Masks may be useful in the crowded places or for people who are in close contact with the infected person, defined as 1 meter or less by World Health Organisation (WHO). However, mask manufacturer 3M said there are no established exposure limits for biological agents such as swine flu virus. A recent internal CDC briefing noted, 20,000 people die from novel 2009-H1N1 and everybody wants to wear a mask. 9 million people die from AIDS and no one wants to wear a condom.
There are a number of ways to help ease Swine flu symptoms like adequate liquid intake and rest, soup to ease congestion and over the counter (OTC) drugs to relieve pain. Aspirin is quite effective for treating fever in adults, but do not give it to children and adolescents. While OTC drugs may relieve symptoms, they do not kill H1N1 virus.
According to the CDC, antiviral drugs can be administered to treat those who are severely ill, two of which are recommended for swine flu symptoms: oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). The medicines must be taken within 2 days of showing symptoms. The medicines act by deactivating the enzyme on which the virus grows and spreads. Oseltamivir is an oral medication, whereas zanamivir is inhaled through a device similar to an asthma inhaler and shouldn't be used by anyone with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and lung disease. -Yogesh Sapkale[email protected]
Things you can do to protect yourself from infected and spreading the virus?
·Avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible.
·Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
·Cover your face while coughing or sneezing if you do not have a tissue. Subsequently, clean your hands and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
·Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds.
·When soap and water is not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
·Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
·If you are down with influenza, stay home and limit contact with others.
GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZED HOSPITALS FOR TREATMENT OF SWINE FLU
Hospital: Naidu Hospital
Address: Nr Le'Meridian, Raja Bahadur Mill, GPO, Pune – 01