What is swine flu?
Swine flu (swine influenza) is a respiratory disease caused by viruses (influenza viruses), resulting in nasal secretions, cough, decreased appetite, and listless behavior. The virus responsible for the ongoing flu cases in India is H1N1.
Swine flu is transmitted from person to person by inhalation or ingestion of droplets containing virus from people sneezing or coughing. Infected persons spread the virus from 1 day before to up to 7 days after appearance of symptoms.
Symptoms of swine flu
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to most influenza infections: fever (100 F or greater), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, and headache, with fatigue being reported in most infected individuals. Some patients may also get a sore throat, rash, body aches, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The incubation period from exposure to first symptoms is about one to four days, with an average of two days. The symptoms last about one to two weeks and can last longer if the person has a severe infection.
Some patients develop severe respiratory symptoms and need respiratory support (such as a ventilator to breathe for the patient). Patients can get pneumonia (bacterial secondary infection) if the viral infection persists, and some can develop seizures. Death often occurs from secondary bacterial infection of the lungs; appropriate antibiotics need to be used in these patients
Diagnosis of Swine Flu
Swine flu is presumptively diagnosed clinically by the patient's history of association with people known to have swine flu. Confirmation requires a lab test; specimens such as nasopharyngeal swab, throat swab, nasal swab, wash or aspirate, and tracheal aspirate (for intubated patients) are to be obtained. The sample should be collected by a trained doctor preferably before administration of the anti-viral drug.
Individuals at high risk of severe infection
· Children 6 months to 4 years (59 months) of age
· People 50 years of age and older
· Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
· People who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV)
· Pregnant women
· People who are morbidly obese (BMI ≥40)
· Health-care professionals (doctors, nurses, health-care personnel treating patients)
· Household contacts and caregivers of people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza
Prevention of Swine Flu
Self-quarantine: People with the disease should self-quarantine until they become noninfectious (about seven to 10 days after flu symptoms abate). Infected people can wear surgical masks to reduce the amount of droplet spray from coughs and sneezes and throw away contaminated tissues.
Hygiene: Kill or inactivate the virus before it reaches a human cell by using soap and water to clean your hands; washing clothing and taking a shower will do the same for the rest of your body. 2.Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, and use sanitizers on objects that many people may touch (for example, doorknobs, computer keyboards, handrails, phones). Do not touch your mouth, eyes, nose, unless you have followed this step.
Contact avoidance: Avoid crowds, parties, and especially people who are coughing and sneezing (most virus-containing droplets do not travel more than 4 feet, so experts suggest 6 feet away is a good distance to stay). If you cannot avoid crowds (or parties), try to remain aware of people around you and use the 6-foot rule with anyone coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching anything within about 6 feet of an uncovered cough/sneeze, because the droplets that contain virus fall and land on anything usually within that range.
Masks: Individuals who wear surgical or N95 particle masks may prevent inhalation of some H1N1 virus, but the masks may prevent only about 50% of airborne exposures and offer no protection against surface droplets. However, masks on H1N1 infected people can markedly reduce the spread of infected droplets.
Stay well hydrated, take vitamins, and get plenty of rest!
Vaccine: as per GOI directive, vaccine prevention is only indicated for healthcare workers dealing with Swine Flu cases.
Treatment of Swine Flu
The guiding principles are:
· Prompt treatment to prevent severe illness & death
· Early identification and follow up of persons at risk
· Tamiflu (Oseltamivir): should be taken only on prescription by Doctor-
· confirmed/probable/suspected cases of Swine flu
· close contacts of a confirmed case
· healthcare workers coming in close contact with suspected/probable/confirmed cases
State wise list of chemists authorized to sell Tamiflu is available at the following link: