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H1N1 Flu  (Influenza A)

Also called: Swine flu

 

SWINE FLU VIRUS Swine flu is a type of virus. It's named for a virus that pigs can get. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. The virus is contagious and can spread from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular      

human  flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

There are antiviral medicines you can take to prevent or treat swine flu. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. You can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza by

  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use it.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners. 
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. 
  • Trying to avoid close contact with sick people. 
  • Staying home from work or school if you are sick. 

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SWINE FLU   --   FAQ ?  ( Science Base ) 

  What is unusual about the present strain?  

The new strain is a hybrid of swine, human and avian flu viruses and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it  spread from human to human but the level of virulence is not yet clear. UPDATE: It is not proving to be particularly virulent and outside the poverty zones of Mexico City it is not demonstrating lethality. Most people are recovering. 

What are the symptoms?  

Symptoms are similar to regular human flu: fever and chills, a cough, sore throat, aching limbs, headaches, and general malaise. However, there are reports of swine flu also causing diarrhoea and vomiting. Pneumonia and respiratory failure can occur leading to death as also happens in regular human flu, which kills thousands of people every year. 

Are there any drugs to treat swine flu?  

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are the possible pharmaceutical frontline defence and are proving effective in treating patients diagnosed early enough. There is as yet no vaccine. It takes several months to create a flu vaccine and any such vaccine will be effective against only the specific strain for which it was created. By the time we have a vaccine the virus may have either died out (most likely) or evolved into a different strain resistant to the vaccine. 

How can we prevent the spread of swine flu?  

People at risk should cover their mouth when they cough. They should regularly wash their hands with an alcohol-based cleaner and and avoid close contact with the sick. Patients with the disease should stay at home. There is no need to avoid eating pork. 

Will there be a global flu epidemic?  

“We do not know whether this swine flu virus or some other influenza virus will lead to the next pandemic,”  says, Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC, “However, scientists around the world continue to monitor the virus and take its threat seriously.” UPDATE: the WHO raised its alert level from Phase IV to V, but we seem to be no closer to a full-blown pandemic than we were at the beginning of this debacle. 

Will there be a second wave?  

One of two outcomes are being forecast, this rather poorly virulent strain will continue spreading slowly but ultimately die out, thanks to a combination of low virulence and monitoring and isolation of outbreaks, or it will mutate into something more nastier and bring with it a fast-spreading and more lethal wave of influenza. Thankfully, in the Northern hemisphere, we are heading into summer and influenza viruses do not spread as efficiently in the summer as they do in the winter. My hunch is that this H1N1 strain of swine flu will die out and the media hype with it over the next two to three weeks. 

What’s next?  

It is impossible to predict what virus will emerge from which host, there are countless different types of pathogen lying dormant in the countless different mammals across the globe. No one predicted SARS, AIDS, Ebola, West Nile virus, or swine flu. This time, health agencies have responded well and although the WHO is saying it is now impossible to “contain” swine flu, it seems that the inflammatory headlines have died down and millions are NOT going to die of this disease. 

Is this a wake-up call?  

At the very least this swine flu outbreak should wake us all up to either getting the dust off our (bird flu) pandemic plans (as the response is the same) or getting started with putting them together. This includes both businesses and individuals. If the outbreak dies out quickly and this turns out not to be the next global pandemic then we can be sure another strain will try to be at some point in the future.  Pandemic preparedness for businesses should now be at the forefront of every business manager’s mind. 

 

 

      

Thelabadvocate