SWINE FLU: FACTS, PREVENTION & TREATMENT
Flu or Influenza is a respiratory illness, which is caused by a virus. It is highly contagious and generally spreads through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. Swine flu is primarily a disease of pigs that has passed to humans. It is caused by type A influenza virus. In India generally, it outbreaks twice in a year
i.e. in between January to March and from August to October.
The swine flu virus is popularly known as H1N1(2009) pandemic virus. Due to its rapid spread, the WHO declared the influenza H1N1 virus as pandemic on 11th June 2009. When the behavior of the H1N1 virus as a seasonal virus can’t be reliably predicted, then WHO has adapted a new nomenclature as Influenza A (H1N1) pdm 09 on 26th September 2011. This virus is popularly called as “Swine Flu Virus”.
The incubation period of swine flu appears to be approx 2-3 days.
LABORATORY DIAGNOSE OF SWINE FLU
- Most sensitive and timely detection of infection is done by the RT-PCR method.
- Samples taken from lower respiratory tracts (tracheal & bronchial aspirates) and upper respiratory tracts
- Samples taken from lower respiratory tracts have higher diagnostic yields than from upper respiratory tracts.
FOLLOWING PERSONS SHOULD BE VERY MUCH CAUTIOUS ABOUT SWINE FLU
- Infants and young children (below 2 yrs)
- Pregnant woman
- Any aged person with long term pulmonary disease (COPD, Asthma)
- Diabetic person
- Children receiving long term Aspirin therapy
- People with kidney or liver disorders
- People with a weakened immune system due to disease like HIV, AIDS, Leukemia
PRECAUTIONS FOR CONTROL OVER SWINE FLU INFECTION
- Hand sanitization with hand washes soap and water or Alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Cover mouth or nose with handkerchief or tissue paper while coughing or sneezing.
- If ill and seeking medical care, then wear a face mask to reduce the risk of contamination in the community.
- While performing Bronchoscopy, a particular respirator (N95, FFP2) should be used along with proper eye protection, gown, and gloves, etc.
- A hospitalized patient with flu symptoms should be isolated for 7 days after starting of illness or 24 hrs. following resolution of fever & respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer.
Severe or progressive Swine flu is nowadays treated as soon as possible. By a Neuraminidase Enzyme Inhibitor drug, known as OSELTAMIVIR (popularly known as TAMIFLU).
In case Oseltamivir is not available or virus is resistant to oseltamivir, then it can be treated with Zanamavir (Trade name RELENZA)[ Note: Zanamivir should not be delivered via Nebulization due to presence of Lactose]
Other alternatives available are- Peramvir (Trade name RAPIVAB) and Ribavirin (should not be given to pregnant women), etc.
Download the awareness document prepared by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), USA.
Oseltamivir is the drug of choice for chemoprophylaxis to the following persons:
- Healthcare personnel.
- Close contact of suspected/ probable/ confirmed cases of Swine flu.
Oseltamivir chemoprophylaxis should be given until 10 days after the last exposure.
VACCINE FOR SWINE FLU
The pandemic influenza vaccine doesn’t give 100% protection against the disease. But they greatly reduce the risk of disease. These vaccines only become effective about 14 days after vaccination. Hence, a person infected shortly before immunization or shortly after immunization (<10-12 days) can still get the disease.
- The monovalent vaccine containing Antigen equivalent to A/California/7/2009(H1N1)V like a strain.
- This vaccine is nowadays used as a single dose intramuscular injection in the upper arm and thigh (infants & young children).
LIVE ATTENUATED VACCINE
- Live attenuated vaccines are given via a nasal spray.
- Common side effects noticed after the nasal spray of the vaccine are: Runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough.
- WHO suggests the following groups for vaccination according to their order of priority.
AUTHOR: DR. BIKRAM KESHARI ROUT, (M.B.B.S, GENERAL PHYSICIAN)
EMAIL: [email protected]