Sunday, August 9, 2009

H1N1 Information

The best way to deal with any medical outbreak is information and awareness. Here is basic information about the swine flu, what it is, what are the symptoms, what you can do to prevent getting it, and more importantly, what should you do should you be running any symptoms.

What is H1N1:
This is what Wikipedia has to say about it. This is what is available on the vaccines. This is what the Health Minister had to say about the current status of H1N1 in India.

Read this:
Swine Flu Symptoms
The swine flu symptoms reported when infected with the swine flu are similar to the symptoms of the influenza virus most are familiar with. The good news is that most people who become infected will do fine and will not have any long term complications. Those who are immune compromised, older or pregnant may be at higher risk of complications or serious respiratory illness. The most common swine flu symptoms include:
Nasal Congestion
Body aches
Joint Pains
Sore throat
Decreased energy
Rarely death in more severe cases, especially from pneumonia.
The viral infection is transmitted to humans who are in contact with swine, although there are several cases of swine flu in people who had no known exposure to either infected people or pigs. Once the species barrier is crossed, human to human transmission can occur with casual contact or airborne transmission, like when one sneezes or coughs. Eating pork products will not cause one to develop the swine flu. Basically, this flu is passed from one person to another like any cold of flu infection.
Prevention of Swine Flu
Washing hands routinely with soap and warm water, and wearing a N99 mask/respirator, such as the Wein ViraMask may also be helpful if you must be in public places. The Wein mask/respirator is strapless and adheres tightly to all faces. When used appropriately, it does not leak. N99 masks provide 100 x more protection than a N95 mask, which are sill a decent option. 3M is also a manufacturer of such masks. If you are planning on traveling by air or train, having a mask available would be a good idea in case it is needed. Also, avoid contact with sick people whenever possible. If you are sick, stay home.
Use alcohol based hand sanitizers to minimize infection risk. Some also use the Wein Air Supply Personal Air Purifier to help reduce exposure to airborne germs. Further, we know that eating healthy food, getting plenty of sleep and keeping your immune system strong can help prevent infections. Vitamin D supplementation may also be of benefit when taken in adequate doses.
Diagnosis of Swine Flu
Remember- most with flu symptoms simply have a viral infection and NOT the swine flu. Maintaining adequate hydration is very important if you contract any viral illness. The swine flu is diagnosed when a physician suspects infection, and sends a nasopharyngeal swab ( a Q-tip of shorts placed about 2 inches in your nose towards your throat) in a special viral collection container to a special lab to be tested.
Treatment of Swine Flu
If you contract the swine flu, there are 2 flu medications which can be helpful. The CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses. These medications can also be used for the usual avian influenza. Symptomatic care is most important. Antibiotics will not help. Ask your doctor about your options. Those at high risk should strongly be considered for treatment with medications. High risk patients include those with diabetes, heart disease, immune compromised, seniors over age 65.
Swine Flu Vaccine
On June 12, a new vaccine was apparently produced by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. If you did receive a flu vaccine this year, it will not offer you protection against the swine flu. Baxter Pharmaceuticals however issued a press release saying they are working on a vaccine also. Whether these will prove to be effective is unknown. In 1976, the swine flu vaccine actually killed more people that it helped (learn more).
A study by Dr. Cannell from California also showed that vitamin D can help prevent traditional influenza infections by strengthening the immune system. A daily intake of 2,000 IU daily should be taken at minimum, by most. A dose of up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily for a few days may also be helpful. Talk to your doctor about this. However, there are no studies specifically which show swine flu is prevented by vitamin D. Read more about vitamin D’s potential and the swine flu. or visit the
Talk to your physician if you have concerns or other questions regarding swine flu.

And read this:
The novel H1N1 flu virus is causing illness in infected persons in the United States and countries around the world. CDC expects that illnesses may continue for some time. As a result, you or people around you may become ill. If so, you need to recognize the symptoms and know what to do.
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with novel H1N1 flu virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. The high risk groups for novel H1N1 flu are not known at this time, but it’s possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza. People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu include people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).
Avoid Contact With Others
If you are sick, you may be ill for a week or longer. You should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel and not going to work or school, for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general, you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness, especially people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza. With seasonal flu, people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. People infected with the novel H1N1 are likely to have similar patterns of infectiousness as with seasonal flu.
Treatment is Available for Those Who Are Seriously III
It is expected that most people will recover without needing medical care.
If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed. Be aware that if the flu becomes widespread, less testing will be needed, so your health care provider may decide not to test for the flu virus.
Antiviral drugs can be given to treat those who become severely ill with influenza. These antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) with activity against influenza viruses, including novel H1N1 flu virus. These medications must be prescribed by a health care professional.
There are two influenza antiviral medications that are recommended for use against novel H1N1 flu. The drugs that are used for treating novel H1N1 flu are called oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®). As the novel H1N1 flu spreads, these antiviral drugs may become in short supply. Therefore, the drugs may be given first to those people who have been hospitalized or are at high risk of severe illness from flu. The drugs work best if given within 2 days of becoming ill, but may be given later if illness is severe or for those at a high risk for complications.
Aspirin or aspirin-containing products (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate – Pepto Bismol) should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected ill case of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection aged 18 years old and younger due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. For relief of fever, other anti-pyretic medications are recommended such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For more information about Reye’s syndrome, visit the National Institute of Health website.
Check ingredient labels on over-the-counter cold and flu medications to see if they contain aspirin.
Children 5 years of age and older and teenagers with the flu can take medicines without aspirin, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®), to relieve symptoms.
Children younger than 4 years of age should NOT be given over-the-counter cold medications without first speaking with a health care provider.
Emergency Warning Signs
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish or gray skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Severe or persistent vomiting
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Severe or persistent vomiting
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Community
Stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available. Visit the CDC H1N1 Flu website.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners* are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible. This is to keep from making others sick.
If you are sick and sharing a common space with other household members in your home, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, to help prevent spreading the virus to others. For more information, see the Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use.
Learn more about how to take care of someone who is ill in "Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home"
Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other social distancing measures.
If you don’t have one yet, consider developing a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of extra food, medicines, and other essential supplies. Further information can be found in the "Flu Planning Checklist"

If you are concerned about your children:
Serious Swine Flu Symptoms
More serious symptoms that would indicate that a child with swine flu would need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish or gray skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Severe or persistent vomiting
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Swine Flu Symptoms vs. a Cold or Sinus Infection
It is important to keep in mind most children with a runny nose or cough will not have swine flu and will not have to see their pediatrician for swine flu testing.
This time of year, many other childhood conditions are common, including:
spring allergies - runny nose, congestion, and cough
common cold - runny nose, cough, and low grade fever
sinus infections - lingering runny nose, cough, and fever
strep throat - sore throat, fever, and a positive strep test
What You Need To Know
Swine flu likely spreads by direct contact with respiratory secretions of someone that is sick with swine flu, like if they were coughing and sneezing close to you.
People with swine flu are likely contagious for one day before and up to seven days after they began to get sick with swine flu symptoms.
Droplets from a cough or sneeze can also contaminate surfaces, such as a doorknob, drinking glass, or kitchen counter, although these germs likely don't survive for more than a few hours.
Anti-flu medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), are available to prevent and treat swine flu.
The latest swine flu news from the CDC includes advice that children should not attend summer camps if they have had swine flu symptoms in the previous seven days and that camp staff should be quick to identify campers with swine flu symptoms and separate them from well campers.

(This from

Watch this for the four misconceptions about H1N1:

Finally, stay healthy, eat well, keep out of crowded places, use hand sanitisers and face masks, keep away from people who seem to be ill. Take adequate multivitamins and build up your immunity levels.
And if you are ill with any of the symptoms, get an influenza strain test done by your GP. If your symptoms are caused by Type A virus, you might need to go for an H1N1 test.

Stay healthy everyone.

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