Swine flu-related cases have been on the rise in India, at a time of the year when the influenza is supposed to have retreated. Known also by swine influenza, it is a respiratory disease that affects pigs. Swine flu virus usually does not infect humans but rarely it can be passed on to humans if it is a “variant viruses”, in this case, H1N1. The virus has eight RNA stands, one of which is from a human flu strain, two from birds and five from swine or pigs. Swine Flu Outbreak in China Can Spread To Rest Of Asia Says UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Apart from H1N1, there are three other types of influenza type A virus: H1N2, H3N2 and H3N1. The most significant outbreak of the influenza was seen in 2009 when it assumed pandemic proportions. According to WHO, there were 30,000 confirmed cases of H1N1 across 74 countries.
What Are The Causes of Swine Flu?
Swine flu is an extremely contagious disease, caused by the spread of the H1N1 virus. It can be transmitted through the saliva or mucous of the infected person. Sneezing or coughing without covering the mouth could send the virus into the air. Coming in contact with a germ-covered surface, like shaking hands with the infected or sharing the same utensils without washing, can also spread the virus.
What Are The Symptoms of Swine Flu?
In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of the regular flu – chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pain, headaches, cough, fatigue and general malaise.
In certain cases, a person suffering from the flu may also experience a runny nose, eye irritation, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Who Are Vulnerable?
According to Medicines.net, children from the age group six months to 19 years, people above the age of 50, pregnant women, and people with underlying heart conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, asthma, lung diseases, etc. are more vulnerable. People who work in farms and piggeries where they come in close contact with infected pigs are more at risk.
Learn More About the Swine Flu Virus.
What is The Treatment for Swine Flu?
Vaccination is the best way to prevent swine flu. The Center for Diseases Prevention and Control (CDC) has been encouraging people to get vaccinated against H1N1 as the best protection against the disease.
FDA-approved Tamiflue® (oseltamivir) is the drug of choice to treat swine flu and the medicine is available at all government-run health bodies.
Other drugs such as Relenza® (zanamivir) and Rapivap® (peramivir) are used other than Tamiflue®.
How Can You Stay Safe from Swine Flu?
As in any case of an infection, sanitary habits have to be practised to prevent catching swine flu. Here are some safety tips outlined by the CDC to stay safe.
• Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and discard the tissue safely.
• Wash your hands frequently with medicated, antiseptic handwash.
• Use an alcohol-based hand rub. Experts believe keeping hands clean can limit viral transmission.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay at home if you are unwell and avoid stepping out.
• Sanitise tabletops, telephones, items that are shared between people with the alcohol-based rub since swine flu virus can be present in aerosols or droplets released during coughing or sneezing.
• Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
• Eat a diet rich in immune-boosting foods like gooseberries (amla), turmeric, ginseng, garlic and ginger.
• Home remedies such as tulsi, aloe vera, camphor, giloi, etc. should be consumed to keep yourself protected from the virus.
Since it is an air-borne illness, it won’t be transmitted through food, especially pork or pork products. Eating properly handled, cooked pork is safe for consumption, and according to the CDC since an internal temperature of 160°F is enough to kill the swine flu virus.