Swine Flu, or H1N1 Type A influenza, emerged during the year 2009 and has spread dramatically.
The AH1N1 infection is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It was named swine flu because the influenza commonly occurs in pigs. Pig-to-human transmission doesn’t usually happen. However, in this case, the virus has infected human beings, primarily veterinarians and hog farmers, who are in frequent contact with pigs which later has caused human-to-human infection. Furthermore, a person can’t be affected by the virus through eating pork products, making pork safe to eat. The virus has spread quickly in different parts of the word that the World Health Organization has declared the disease to be a global pandemic.
What are the Symptoms of Swine Flu?
H1N1 symptoms are likely the same as the symptoms of a regular flu. These symptoms include: sore throat, cough, headache, body ache, chills, runny nose, fatigue, and fever. In most cases, patients also experience vomiting and diarrhea during the course of the disease. Because of the similarity of symptoms with other diseases, a diagnosis of H1N1 is very difficult based on symptoms alone.
Like the regular flu, swine flu may also affect the nervous system. This causes neurologic symptoms to occur. Although very rare, a flu that affects the nervous system is very fatal and severe. Symptoms such as seizures and changes in the patient’s level of consciousness may be a sign of the nervous system being affected. The occurrence of these symptoms may not be clear. However, it is sometimes associated with Reye’s syndrome. This is caused because of the intake of aspirin during a viral illness which commonly affects children.
How is Swine Flu Diagnosed?
The physician may do a series of examinations to confirm the diagnosis of the disease. The physician may ask questions regarding the people associated with the patient and if the patient has traveled to places where the flu exists.
Diagnosing H1N1 by its symptoms is difficult. The only accurate way of diagnosing this illness is via laboratory tests such as a throat swab. However, accuracy also depends on certain factors. A negative result doesn’t guarantee the patient don’t have the illness. The accuracy depends on how the sample was collected, the method used, the severity of the flu during the test, as well as the quality of the testing kit.
How to Prevent Swine Flu
Like any other influenza infection, the best way of preventing the occurrence of H1N1 Influenza is through vaccination. The dose of the vaccine depends on the age of the receiver of the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that the flu vaccine is to be administered to people aged six months and up. The vaccine is given via an injection or nasal spray.
Furthermore, measures such as hygiene are also recommended to prevent the spread of infection. If you do suspect you have the infection, it is better to stay at home. You may spread it to other people when you’re outside. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing may as well aid in preventing the spread of the virus. If you do not have the infection, it is best to avoid crowded places to avoid getting the infection. Frequent washing of hands using soap and water is also a great way of preventing an infection. It is also recommended to use disinfectants or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. In case a household member is affected, it is better to utilize reverse isolation. Let the patient use a mask, preferably an N95 respirator, at all times and limit close contact with the affected person. Breastfeeding is discouraged if the mother is suspected to have the flu.
What is the Treatment for Swine Flu?
Prevention is always the key in any disease. However, if prevention was not very successful, early treatment is recommended. Although swine flu is resistant to other antivirals, certain drugs are available for the treatment of H1N1. Antivirals such as Relenza and TAMIFLU are said to treat or lessen the effects of the H1N1 virus. They are most effective if used within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Peramivir is also an antiviral drug effective for the flu. It is commonly used in patients having a severe flu. It is only used in the hospital because of its route of administration. This drug is only to be administered intravenously.
Antiviral medications are also not to be used extensively. This may cause the virus to develop resistance against these medications. Furthermore, they are not to be used after 48 hours of the onset of symptoms except for Peramivir. Patients who developed complications during the illness may be required to have additional support treatments. Examples are patients who develop pneumonia during the flu infection. They may be required to have ventilation support.
Not all swine flu patients need to undergo treatment with these antiviral drugs. Most patients recover from H1N1 flu without the use of antiviral medications.