Swine flu: Causes & Symptoms

More than 500 people infected by Swine flu only Delhi including National capital region till July, 2017. 55 cases of Swine flu reported in Utter Pradesh also. Famous bollywood actor Amir Khan also suffering from Swine flu. Swine flu cases reported all over India.
Swine flu: Causes & Symptoms

Navneet Kumar Gupta 

Most of the diseases rampant among humans today trace their origin back to animals. Several human infections including bird flu, mad cow disease, rabies, the plague and even Ebola came from animals. 

But the one disease that’s causing panic in India these days is Swine Flu. Also known as Swine influenza, Pig influenza, Hog flu and Pig flu, it is an infection caused by a special class of virus called swine influenza viruses. Swine flu has similar symptoms and treatments and is transmitted in the same ways as the regular flu virus.

Swine flu: Causes & Symptoms
Swine influenza virus or SIV is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. Currently, the known SIV strains include influenza C viruses and the subtypes of influenza A viruses known as H1N1, H1N2, H2N1, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3. 

Swine influenza was first proposed to be a disease related to human flu during the 1918 flu pandemic at the time pigs became ill at the same time as humans. Following this, swine flu outbreaks were reported in the US in 1976, then in 1998 and in 2007 in the Philippines. 
The most recent outbreak of Swine flu was reported in 2009 when 14 people died of the disease in Northern Ireland. The infection was then confirmed to have been caused by the H1N1 strain. A few months after the first swine flu cases were reported, rates of confirmed H1N1-related illnesses started increasing all over the world. It was then that the World Health Organization declared the infection a global pandemic in August 2010. Since then, the H1N1 virus has been known as a regular human flu virus.

More than 500 people infected by Swine flu only Delhi including National capital region till July 2017. 55 cases of Swine flu reported in Utter Pradesh also. Famous Bollywood actor Amir Khan also suffering from Swine flu. Swine flu cases reported all over India. Some state government issued guidelines to tackle swine flu also. 

According to experts, the virus was first transmitted to humans - mainly hog farmers and veterinarians through pigs. The main Swine flu symptoms develop about one to three days after a person is exposed to the virus and continue for about seven days. The H1N1 virus infects the respiratory tract of human beings. The major symptoms are similar to those of influenza. These include Fever, Cough, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Body aches, Headache, Chills, Fatigue. 

People suffering from swine flu are more likely to suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting than people suffering from common flu. The disease is communicable and the infection spreads through contact of infected surface or the breathing of cough and sneezes droplets in the air. An infected person can be contagious for up to 10 days. Experts warn that young children, pregnant women, and older adults are more likely to develop complications. In some cases, if left untreated the infection can cause death due to respiratory failure, pneumonia, high fever or dehydration.

The current treatments available for swine flu are antiviral drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza. Relenza (zanamivir) is an antiviral medication. It blocks the actions of viruses in your body. However certain strains of the H1N1 virus have been observed to be resistant to Tamiflu. Doctors warn against the use of over the counter antibiotics as swine flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria. It is best to consult a physician right at the onset of symptoms and avoid self-medication, particularly in the case of children. Children already suffering from swine flu may develop a complication called Reye’s syndrome, when given drugs containing aspirin. 

But effective vaccines are now available against the H1N1 swine flu strain. The vaccine can be taken as a shot or a nasal spray. Besides all the medications and vaccinations, experts say that following some simple rules of hygiene can go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease. 

These include:
• Washing hands at regular intervals with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers after contact with infected surfaces.
• Covering your nose and mouth while sneezing.
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Taking proper precautions while dealing with sick people.
• Farmers particularly the ones involved in cattle raising and pig farming must follow strict hygienic measures while dealing with animals.
Navneet Kumar Gupta is a science communicator working as a Project Officer (Edusat) in Vigyan Prasar-National institute of Science communication under the Department. of Science & Technology. Govt. Of India. He has deep interest in popular science writing for general public through Print and electronic media. Besides his twelve books, he has written more than 200 popular science articles. He has edited/authored/co-authored more than 10 books. He have been awarded six National Awards including Rajbhasha Award, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India He has had a long stint as Associate Editor, VIPNET news - a popular science magazine. You may contact him at - ngupta@vigyanprasar.gov.in
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