Swine Flu – A Brief Awareness

Swine flu is believed to be originated in Mexico and is known as such as the majority of genes present in the virus are regular Swine flu genes, even though it also contains human and avian flu genes as well. The symptoms are identical to those of normal flu such as runny nose, fever, coughing and body aches. However, some victims experience vomiting and diarrhea as well, and disease gets spread similar to seasonal flu.

The popular myth earlier was that people eating pork or pork products contracted this virus, but this proved to be incorrect. The fear of being another verge of pandemic, swept the entire world, but was immediately proved that it did not occur even due to water contamination; and in reality it is an airborne respiratory disease.

Swine flu evolved as a critical ailment, now it has been identified, diagnosed and accordingly proper treatment is given. The disease is diagnosed clinically taking into consideration the people with whom the patient has association, and if they have this ailment or symptoms. This is done by taking a quick test called nasopharyngeal swab sample to see if that person is infected with influenza virus A or B.

The tests can also be negative indicating no flu infection or can give positive results indicating A or B virus. In case this test proves to be positive indicating B type influenza virus, it is safe as it is not Swine flu. A positive result indicating A type virus can result in that person having conventional flu or Swine flu. The accuracy of such tests is challenging, and owing to this, a comparative study is being done. Recently, CDC has reported that Swine flu can be detected in an hour; however, right now it is available only to the military.

Swine flu is diagnosed by taking a test in a specialized laboratory and the best treatment available now is prevention by vaccination. The effort and work by many laboratories has resulted in producing vaccines to prevent the disease and the first vaccine was a nasal spray vaccine released in October, 2009. This vaccine has been approved for all age group individuals from 2 to 49, except for pregnant women who are not recommended to inject this vaccine.

However, another injectable vaccine made using killed H1N1 became available from October second week, and is approved from 6 months child to elderly, besides including pregnant females. These vaccines have received approval by the CDC only after undergoing clinical trials in the aim of proving that these vaccines are safe as well as effective. However, this does not overrule the fact that caregivers need to be aware of the guidelines of injecting this vaccine.

There has been a report that two antiviral agents, Tamilflu (Oseltamivir) and Relenza (Zanamivir) help in reducing Swine flu affects and also prevent the A and B influenza symptoms. However, indiscriminate use of these drugs should be restricted, besides these drugs are not recommended for people suffering with flu symptoms for over 48 hours or more. Conversely, patients facing severe infections may need additional measures like ventilation assistance and treatment of infections such as pneumonia occurring in patients with flu infection. There are interim guidelines suggested by the CDC for pregnant females to the given treatment using two antiviral agents.

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