If you are looking for information on swine flu, it is highly likely that you are looking for the symptoms of this disease to exclude yourself from the list of those who are suffering from swine flu. So, instead of writing about other details of this disease in the start, I’m writing the symptoms of swine flu to save your time and effort. If however, you wish to learn more about this disease; you are free to read the whole document.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to other forms of flu and they include cough, throat pain, fever with chills, runny nose, fatigue, body aches, nausea/vomiting and diarrhea.
Swine flu is caused by H1N1 virus. The disease originated in pigs, but is now widespread among certain segments of human population.
Areas hit by Swine Flu in Pakistan
The areas that are most affected by swine flu outbreak in Pakistan include Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khanewal, Taunsa and certain other areas of southern Punjab. Our neighboring country India is comparatively more affected (nearly 30000 cases documented to date).
Swine flu spreads from person to person through direct contact. Sneezing or coughing can cause the germs of this disease to spread through air to other individuals. Moreover, the virus can stay alive (for about 2 hours) on objects like tables or other surfaces like door handles and spread when others touch them. The affected person can remain contagious for a period of about ten days.
Some groups of population are more at risk of the disease. These include individuals older than 65 years, children less than 5 years of age, pregnant women, people taking immunosuppressive medication, AIDS patients or people having chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma etc.
A history of contact with individuals having swine flu is important in helping to make the diagnosis. A definitive diagnosis of swine flu is based on identifying particular antigens associated with H1N1 virus. Common medical setups lack the facility to carry out this test and hence they are unable confirm diagnosis. Alternatively, PCR can be utilized to identify the genetic material of virus and hence confirm the diagnosis of an ongoing or active infection. In situations where the disease becomes widespread, confirmation of every patient is not a possibility; hence, under such circumstances, clinical judgement is used to make decisions regarding diagnosis.
Certain measures can prevent spread of infection from one person to another. These include patient isolation, use of gloves and gowns with closed front, using shoe covers and respiratory protection by using masks etc.
Flu vaccine has been shown to be effective (nearly 70%) in prevention of this disease. Since many patients die from secondary bacterial infections that affect the already damaged lungs, vaccination by pneumococcal vaccine (to prevent bacterial infection) is also recommended.
Patients suffering from asthma are exceptionally vulnerable to respiratory complications resulting from swine flu. Lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and exacerbations of asthma are frequently reported among asthmatic patients. Smokers also demonstrate an increased incidence of developing respiratory complications.
Patients suffering from swine flu may require medical treatment. Supportive therapy for pain, fever and dehydration is often needed. Antivirals including oseltamivir (pill form) and zanamivir (inhaled form) have been used in patients suffering from either the H1N1 or H3N2v strains of virus. Tamiflu, which contains ‘oseltamivir’ is available in Pakistan and can be used in cases of swine flu. Antiviral drugs can be started earlier during the course of disease to prevent development of serious complications.
Outcome of swine flu
The outcome of disease is favorable in most people since they have the ability to fight swine flu infection on their own. However, a limited number of patients may progress towards developing complications that are life-threatening.