Swine Flu: Five myths and cautions if you are infected


New Delhi: Taking into account the rising number of deaths due to theSwine flu, the Centre has ordered additional stocks of medicines and diagnostic kits to strengthen the fight against the disease.

The deaths continue unabated as the toll crossed 620 with more than 100 deaths reported across the country since February 12.

There are five myths about the deadly disease that you should avoid:

1) You cannot get infected from eating Pork

Just because the disease name is “Swine” flu, this does not mean that eating pork products spread spread H1N1 influenza. The virus spreads through droplets expelled in the air from infected people coughing and sneezing. People are contagious from one day before to seven days after developing symptoms of swine flu.
2) H1N1 virus has mutated

Gene sequencing of the H1N1 virus by India’s two premier labs – National Institute of Virology Pune and National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi – last week showed the virus has not mutated. The virus infecting people this year is the same as the one that infected less than 1,000 people last year.
3) Swine-flu has no cure

Having the anti-viral prescription drug Oseltamivir (commonly sold under the brand name Tamiflu) shortens the duration and severity of illness if the taken within 48 hours of the symptoms appearing. It also makes you less contagious and prevents infection. Oseltamivir also protects against other strains of influenza.
4) Shortage of drugs in India

There is no shortage. The virus causes mild disease in most people and less than 1% people infected need drugs for treatment. India has stockpiles of 60,000 adult doses of Oseltamivir (75mg and 45mg) and 1,000 doses of the paediatric syrup. Three pharma companies – Hetero, Natco and Strides Acrolab – have the manufacturing capacity and raw materials to produce the drug on a short notice.
5) Swine-flu is only once in a lifetime

The H1N1 virus works like other seasonal flu viruses and may re-infect you in the coming years. Since you can get it again and again if you are in frequent contact with contagious people, all health-workers treating people with swine flu are vaccinated against it. The vaccine offers a one-year protection against the virus.
However the patients need not to panic since the H1N1 virus has not mutated and is no more contagious or deadly than other flu viruses. In fact, the death rate in 2015 has been lower compared to the figure in 2014.

What is Swine Flu?

Swine Flu, also known as H1N1 type A influenza, is a human disease. The name ‘Swine Flu’ stuck because originally the disease transmitted from pigs to humans. However, the current pandemic involves human to human transmission, according to this article on The Health Site. In 2009, H1N1, or swine flu was called a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) because of its massive spread across the world.

Signs and symptoms

In humans the symptoms of “swine flu” H1N1 virus are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness. These include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to regular flu. People with Swine Flu are more likely to feel nauseous and throw up than people who have seasonal flu. But a lab test is the only way to know for sure.

What causes Swine Flu?

Swine Flu is a respiratory disease. A virus called swine influenza virus causes the disease. Swine Flu is mainly caused by SIV sub type H1N1, however other subtypes H1N2, H1N3, H3N1, H3N2 and H2N3 can also be reasons for Swine Flu.

It is an airborne disease and the virus transmits from person to person through the same medium as other flu viruses. It is a contagious disease and it spreads through saliva and mucus particles. A simple sneeze may cause thousands of germs to spread through the air.
People who don’t follow proper hygiene are at a high risk of contracting the virus. People who are at high risk of getting infected include:

* Individuals having any other respiratory condition like pneumonia
* Pregnant women
* People suffering from chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes
* People more than 65 years of age and children younger than 2 years

•    The same flu vaccine that protects against seasonal flu also protects against the H1N1 swine flu strain. The vaccine may be given through an injection or nasal spray. Currently, injectable H1N1 vaccines available in the market are – Influvac, Agrippal, Vaxigrip, Vaxiflu-S and Fluarix.

•    The injections cost around Rs 600-700 per dose. The doctors advise people to get a repeat vaccine dose every year.

•    Although, here are a few do-s and dont-s that will help you stay healthy and safe:

•    Besides a flu shot, there are other things you can do to stay healthy:

•    Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to make sure you’ve washed long enough. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

•    Don’t touch your eyess, nose, or mouth.

•    Avoid people who are sick.

•    Cover your face while coughing or sneezing: And make sure people around you in office or home also follow this.

•    Sleep: Get enough sleep of 8 hours every night to keep your immune system strong and ready to fight infection.

•    Eat immune-boosting foods: Eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and other vitamin-rich foods to keep your body strong and nourished.

•    Drink water: Keep your body hydrated by drinking water of about 8-10 glasses daily.


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