Things to Know - H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic [ Current Affairs ]

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H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Background: H1N1 influenza commonly known as swine flu is a respiratory disease which first was common among pigs but now in the recent years has been observed in humans too. It spreads only through air, water and mucous. It was first observed in the early-mid 19th century but it came to notice when a pandemic struck Northern America during 1990-1993. The biggest swine flu pandemic struck in the year 2009 in the Northern Americas and the Eurasian continents. This led to WHO raising the swine flu pandemic level to phase 6-the highest level. The flu was spreading very quickly and easily due air transfer.

Outbreak

World: The flu can be traced as back as 1918 but it is certain that its first signs were observed in the Americas (northern). Then it came back in the late 1960’s when several cases of the flu were reported. There was a small spread again in the Euro and American countries during a brief period of 1990-93. Finally in the swine origin history comes the 2009 pandemic, the worldwide spread of the H1N1 influenza.

India: In the Indian continent the first case of H1N1 was only in the year 2009. When on airports, security was posted to find whether someone was carrying the virus, in Hyderabad the first positive case was spotted and in Pune the first death was observed. Till 2015 around 700 people have died and more than 10,000 have been diagnosed with H1N1 influenza.

Symptoms

The common symptoms which can last up to a week observed in a patient suffering from H1N1 influenza were as follows:

  • Fever
  • Sneezes
  • Sore Throat
  • Coughs
  • Headache
  • Muscle or Joint pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Stuffy nose

Transmission

The H1N1 influenza spreads mainly through air and mucous, basically through nose and mouth.

Diagnosis

It is very difficult to differentiate and diagnose between the H1N1 influenza and the seasonal influenza. There are no thorough tests to find out this virus. It can definitively be identified through identifying the particular antigens associated with this type virus and its test can only be done in specialized laboratories and not all doctors perform them.

Treatment

Antiviral drugs used taken during seasonal flu can also be taken during the H1N1 influenza. Drugs like zanamivir and oseltamivir work best when take within the first 48 hours since the symptoms show up but can also work when taken after. The same vaccine which protects against the seasonal flu can be taken to do the same for swine flu.

People who are at High Risk

Mainly the people who are at high risk of catching the influenza are:

  • Children under 5
  • Old people over 65
  • Adolescents and teens that are getting aspirin therapy might be diagnosed with Reye’s syndrome.
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults and children who have chronic or metabolic problems.
  • Adults and Children who have suppressed immune system or have HIV.
  • People in nursing homes

Prevention

Steps to prevent one from coming in contact with this deadly disease are:

  • Wash hands with an antiseptic for at least 2 minutes at regular intervals.
  • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Try and not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Try and avoid people who are sick.

Author’s Insight: The author feels that research organizations across the world should come together to find a solution to this problem so as to save human lives. Also the author feels that till the time there is no solution people should strictly follow preventive measures. The author strongly hopes that soon we will soon be able to stop this pandemic from spreading anymore.

By: Satyajay Jethwa

- Published on: February 24, 2015