Swine Flu: All you need to know

Written by: Samyuktha K
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Swineflu
What started off as a contagious mutant virus infecting humans has grown into the biggest pandemic of the 21st century. Swine Flu or the H1N1 influenza has spread across the globe and reached India's doorstep now. And knowing your enemy is the first step to winning over it or at least in this case preventing it. So, here is all you need to know about the Influenza A cause by the Swine Flu virus.

What is Swine Flu?

H1N1 Influenza or Influenza A is a respiratory disease caused by the combination of four viruses and is usually hosted by pigs which is why the media dubbed it 'Swine Flu'. This is not fatal for the animals and used to occasionally affect humans.

But since the virus stream mutated, the flu soon turned into a pandemic as it spread from person to person.

The risk factor here is that its a new virus stream and no one is immune to it, making everyone vulnerable to contracting it.

Symptoms

Even though the symptoms are similar to that of an ordinary flu, they can be severe. The symptoms include:

* Fever
* Cough
* Headache
* Weakness and fatigue
* Aching muscles and joints
* Sore throat
* Runny nose

Prevention, to reduce the risk of catching or spreading:

* Cover you mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
* Dispose the tissue properly
* Wash hands regularly or at least use a Hand Sanitizer
* Keep your surrounding clean

Even though face masks are provided as a preventive method, there is no real research that shows that it can effectively prevent the user from catching the flu

What you should do?

If you have the symptoms of the flu whether you travelled recently or not, do visit a doctor for tests. And if the test results come out positive there is no reason to panic as the flu can be treated with a dose of the Antiviral drug, Tamiflu.

Finally, just trust your government and your Health Ministry.

If the Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad is saying India is capable of handling the flu, you have just got to trust him.

India has already taken steps to stock pile Tamiflu, also known generically as Oseltamivir.

If your worrying over the media reports that say that Indian stocks of the anti viral drugs are below the internationally-recommended levels, you should know that recommended level of protection in an emergency is for a country to have enough doses to treat 10 percent of a country"s population.

However, this has not been confirmed by the WHO. And the practical issue here is that India is a large country, and a small population has contracted the flu; if we do co-operate that number will remain small.

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