Monday, January 26, 2015

SWINE FLU: TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

Swine flu is the latest threat that is seen spreading around the globe. Let us first understand a bit that how this swine flu evolution happened. Studies show that during the 1918 flu pandemic, the swine influenza was first reported to be a disease associated with humans as at the same time this influenza also affected the pigs. This was just a proposal. Later after around 10 years, the identification of the virus due to disease in pigs was reported. The first strain of this virus was seen as H1N1. But over the years new strains are being reported. So what happened next? Although, the strains of this virus were descending from human beings but pigs became the perfect reservoirs. This later affected humans with compromised immunity.

According to the WHO study, pigs act as a “ mixing vessel “ where influenza genes from different viruses get mixed and create a new influenza virus. Pigs get infected with influenza viruses from many different hosts that include birds and humans.
It is now spreading rapidly and has become a serious concern for millions.

Electron microscope image of the reassorted H1N1 influenza virus photographed at the CDC Influenza Laboratory. The viruses are 80–120 nanometres in diameter. Image Courtesy CDC Influenza Laboratory http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/images.htm?s_cid=cs_001
The virus is evolving and has strains like the H3N2 strain found in pigs in China and Vietnam. There is H3N2 strain that evolved from H2N2 by antigenic shift, a process in which two or more stains of a virus combine to form a new subtype.

Symptoms


There is a general feeling of tiredness with a sudden rise in fever of around 38 degree Celsius or 100 degree Fahrenheit and above. Pain in muscles and joints are also seen. Other symptoms include headache, running or blocked nose. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, chills and soar throat are some of the other symptoms seen sometimes.

If you have a healthy immune system your body recovers within a week. But it is important to see your healthcare provider to avoid further complications such as respiratory problems.

How to treat Swine flu?

Antiviral drugs are available such as Oseltamivir and Zanamivir that are used to retrieve the symptoms and helps in avoiding risks of serious complications. Antibiotics are also given in order to control any bacterial infection, which may occur as a result of a complication of influenza. Others include taking proper rest at home and drinking lots of water in order to avoid dehydration. Meet your healthcare provider for proper prescription incase of any serious complications.


How to prevent its spread?


Swine flu spreads like any other common cold. This includes through sneezing and coughing. Hence, one should use a tissue paper every time and it should be disposed off properly.  One should always avoid touching nose, mouth and eyes. There is an interesting fact that I came across while reading NHS sheet that the virus when lands on any surface has a survival life of 24 hours. Hence, one should have a strong immune system in order to avoid infection. One should practice healthy cleaning habits. This means it can also spread through household items on daily basis. As it is possible to breathe in the virus one should clean hands properly with a hygienic cleansing agent such as Dettol, sanitizer etc. One should follow proper hand washing technique that is very important, as this is one of the accelerating factor through which this virus is spread. Check out this video demonstrating proper hand washing technique.

Lastly, one of the most common source through which it can be transferred, is mobile phone, that I am sure is quite a common daily need but most negligible too.
Hence, one should avoid touching mobile phone in order to prevent infection. Rather, it should be in our practice that like our hands one should clean their mobile phone regularly with the appropriate cleansing agent.

Flu Shots and Influenza vaccine are also available. Since there are various pros and cons associated with types of vaccination technique, one should consult to their healthcare providers before deciding on Flu Shot vs Influenza vaccine.

People working in slaughterhouses should take special care of themselves while working with the animals. If you are infected, kindly stay at home and prevent it spreading to others as the number is increasing day by day. Recent report says that in Telangana, India alone 221 positive cases are reported and it is showing its affect in other states of India as well such as Hyderabad, Delhi etc.


Kindly leave your comments or suggestions in order to share more prevention techniques.


Cheers,
SG

Sources:
  1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pandemic-flu/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/fact-sheet-vaccines
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_influenza#Vaccination
  4. http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/swine_influenza/en/

Disqus for Meal For Thought