According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, swine influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. It regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.
Seasonal influenza occurs every year and the viruses change each year – but many people have some immunity to the circulating virus which helps limit infections. Some countries also use seasonal influenza vaccines to reduce illness and deaths. But influenza A (H1N1) is a recent virus, to which most people have no or little immunity and, therefore, this virus could cause more infections than seen with seasonal flu. Influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and spreads from human to human through droplets of respiratory fluids by way of coughing, sneezing and by touching objects contaminated with such secretions.
Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products are safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 80°C kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Government of India has played a major role in eradicating swine flu from India. They have placed a prior order for enhancing happy wheels demo stock of diagnostic kits and they should be supplied directly to the lab. The labs will also provide extra testing facilities for swine flu. Integrated Disease Surveillance Program, is a new initiative which is being used for testing H1N1 influenza in human body. Necessary medicines (Oseltamivir e.g. Tamiflu) in sufficient quantity are available in hospitals and medical centers. It is strongly advisable not to take medicines on your own, as it will lower your immunity. Also never take these medicines as precaution on your own without the advice of a qualified allopathic doctor, as they may not work later when you have infected with swine flu. There is no scientific evidence on efficacy of alternative medicines like eucalyptus/Nilgiri leaves/oil, camphor (kapur) and cardamom (elaichi) or any indigenous medicines in treating swine flu. People must ascertain the veracity of such forwarded propaganda through their respective qualified allopathic physicians.
To enhance the services in a better way, Government of India has purchased 60,000 Oseltamivir medicines along with 10,000 N-95 masks. Not just this, even the NCDC has passed an additional tender for 10,000 diagnostic kits. The Government of India has launched various communication programs like audio-visuals, circulars & print publications, etc. to create awareness among the masses about the symptoms and treatment of swine flu.
Annual vaccination is the most effective solution for combating seasonal influenza infections such as swine flu, which has killed more than 1,200 people this year in India. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “It is recommended that people get a flu vaccine even during seasons when drifted viruses are circulating. It’s because vaccination can prevent some infections and can reduce serious ailments that can lead to hospitalisation and death.” The flu vaccine has been designed to protect against three or four influenza viruses and some of these viruses may circulate later in the season, the WHO added in a report.
– Mannat Anand