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COVER STORY
Pandemic and Panic: Swine Flu FAQs

The global swine flu pandemic, with increasing news of fatalities from all over the world, particularly India, is causing understandable alarm. Siliconeer presents answers to frequently asked questions based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Contol in Atlanta.


Holi ke Rang (Siliconeer photo)

What is novel H1N1 (swine flu)?

Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization signaled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway.

Are there human infections with novel H1N1 virus in the U.S.?

Yes. Human infections with the new H1N1 virus are ongoing in the United States. Most people who have become ill with this new virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment.

CDC routinely works with states to collect, compile and analyze information about influenza, and has done the same for the new H1N1 virus since the beginning of the outbreak. This information is presented in a weekly report, called FluView.

Is novel H1N1 virus contagious?

CDC has determined that novel H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human.

Swine Flu: The Indian Government’s Advisory

HEALTH ALERT
INFLUENZA A (H1N1)


Look for these symptoms:
FEVER AND
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose

Other symptoms may include:
• Body aches
• Headache
• Fatigue
• Chills
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting

People with certain chronic medical conditions, adults 65 years or older, children younger than 5 years old, and pregnant women may be at higher risk for severe illness.

Do’s & Don’ts

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE H1 N1 FLU:

• Stay at home or in your hotel room if traveling, except to seek medical care. Do not travel or go to work or school.

• Avoid close contact with others for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.

Everyone Should

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue
when you cough or sneeze
• Wash your hands often with soap and
water or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or
mouth.
• Avoid contact with ill persons.

For more information
• Visit http://www.mohfw-h1n1.nic.in
• Contact Director (EMR) 011-23061302
• e-mail : diremr@nic.in
• National Help Line : 1075
• Contact your local or state health
Department

(Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Readers can view the full text of the advisory at: http://mohfw-h1n1.nic.in/swin.pdf)
How does novel H1N1 virus spread?

Spread of novel H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?

The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people 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 this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

How severe is illness associated with novel H1N1 flu virus?

Illness with the new H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe. While most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have occurred.

In seasonal flu, certain people are at “high risk” of serious complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. About 70 percent of people who have been hospitalized with this novel H1N1 virus have had one or more medical conditions previously recognized as placing people at “high risk” of serious seasonal flu-related complications. This includes pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and kidney disease.

One thing that appears to be different from seasonal influenza is that adults older than 64 years do not yet appear to be at increased risk of novel H1N1-related complications thus far. CDC laboratory studies have shown that no children and very few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibody to novel H1N1 flu virus; however, about one-third of adults older than 60 may have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against novel H1N1 flu by any existing antibody.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?

People infected with seasonal and novel H1N1 flu shed virus and may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and in people infected with the new H1N1 virus.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against novel H1N1 virus. However, a novel H1N1 vaccine is currently in production and may be ready for the public in the fall. As always, a vaccine will be available to protect against seasonal influenza

There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
  • 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 or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you 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 a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

Other important actions that you can take are:

Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you 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 a fever-reducing medicine.)

Keep away from others as much as possible. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

If I have a family member at home who is sick with novel H1N1 flu, should I go to work?

Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with novel H1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you live in areas where people have been identified with novel H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. CDC recommends that you 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 a fever-reducing medicine.) Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.Staying at home means that you should not leave your home except to seek medical care. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

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.

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
    • Confusion
    • Severe or persistent vomiting
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Are there medicines to treat novel H1N1 infection?

Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with novel H1N1 flu virus. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body.


Source: Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. For latest information and more details readers can visit the Web page of the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

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Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

COVER STORY
Pandemic and Panic:
Swine Flu FAQs
The global swine flu pandemic is causing understandable alarm. Siliconeer presents answers to frequently asked questions.


TRIBUTE
Father Nahin, Baba Kaho:
Hindi Scholar Kamil Bulke
The first person to demand the right to write a doctoral thesis in Hindi was a Jesuit of Belgian Flemish descent. Ved Prakash Vatuk outlines the remarkable life of Baba Kamil Bulke.


SUBCONTINENT
Waiting for Justice:
Dalits in Jajupur
India’s independence has a hollow ring for dalit landless farmers in Jajupur in Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi District, writes Sandeep Pandey.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Swine Flu Pandemic
IN MEMORIAM: Senator Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)
CELEBRATION: India Independence Day
NEWS DIARY: August
TRIBUTE: Happy Birthday, Chennai
SUBCONTINENT: Swine Flu in India
SUBCONTINENT: India's New Bill: Education for All
CELEBRATION: The Other Pakistan
RECIPE: Broccoli Masala
TRAVEL: Skiing the Alhambra
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Kia Soul +
COMMUNITY: 2010 U.S. Census: Be Counted!
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Kaminey
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
TAMIL FILM REVIEW: Kandasamy
BUSINESS: News Briefs
COMMUNITY: News
INFOTECH INDIA: Briefs
HOROSCOPE: September

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