Saturday, July 18, 2009


SWINE FLUE- A description of the dreadful disease













A New Influenza Virus

Novel influenza A (H1N1) is a new flu virus of swine origin that was first detected in April, 2009. The virus is infecting people and is spreading from person-to-person, sparking a growing outbreak of illness in the United States. An increasing number of cases are being reported internationally as well.
It’s thought that novel influenza A (H1N1) flu spreads in the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread; mainly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus.
It’s uncertain at this time how severe this novel H1N1 outbreak will be in terms of illness and death compared with other influenza viruses. Because this is a new virus, most people will not have immunity to it, and illness may be more severe and widespread as a result. In addition, currently there is no vaccine to protect against this novel H1N1 virus. CDC anticipates that there will be more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths associated with this new virus in the coming days and weeks.


Novel influenza A (H1N1) activity is now being detected through CDC’s routine influenza surveillance systems and reported weekly in FluView. CDC tracks U.S. influenza activity through multiple systems across five categories. The fact that novel H1N1 activity is now detected through seasonal surveillance systems is an indication that there are higher levels of influenza-like illness in the United States than is normal for this time of year. About half of all influenza viruses being detected are novel H1N1 viruses.





What is influenza – A(H1N1)

Influenza – A (H1N1) (earlier know as swine flu) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. First detected in Mexico in April, 2009, it has spread to many countries in the World. Swine flu is basically a misnomer. This was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to those found in pigs in North America.
Further on, it has been found that this new virus has gene segments from the swine, avian and human flu virus genes. The scientists calls this a ‘quadruple reassortant” virus and hence this new (novel) virus is christened “influenza-A
(H1N1) virus.”



Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak

It is causing an epidemic among humans in Mexico and has spread to Austria,
Canada, China (Hong Kong), Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland,
Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland,
UK and USA.



Are there human/infections with influenza – A (H1N1) in India?

So far, there is no confirmed case of influenza A (H1N1) in India. Do not panic!



Is it safe to take pork items?

Pigs have nothing to do with this disease. Pork products are absolutely safe if properly cooked. There is no need to cull pigs. Do not panic if some pigs die in the community due to natural disease.



Is this flu virus contagious?

Influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and spreading from human to human.



What are the signs and symptoms of influenza-A (H1N1) in people?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhoea and vomiting associated with influenza-A (H1N1)



How does influenza-A (H1N1) spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through droplets created while coughing or sneezing by a person infected with the influenza-A (H1N1).



How can someone with the flu infect someone else?

Infected person may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick.



How to keep away from getting the flu?

First and most important: Follow simple steps as cough etiquettes (covering mouth & nose with handkerchief or tissue paper while coughing), stay at least an arm’s length from persons coughing or sneezing, avoid gathering and wash your hands frequently. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.



Are there medicines to treat this flu?

Yes. Necessary medicines in sufficient quantity are available. As there is no confirmed case as yet, the Government has in the designated hospitals stored medicines if required. It is strongly advisable not to take medicines of your own, as it will lower your immunity.



What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

(a) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
(b) Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
(c) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
(d) Try to avoid close contact with people having respiratory illness.
(e) If one gets sick with influenza, one must stay at home, away from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
However, if one is having any respiratory distress, one should report to a nearby hospital.



What steps Government of India taking to prevent outbreak of this flu in India?

(1) The strategy is basically to detect early cases among the passengers coming from the affected countries either by air, road or ship.
(2) The Government has launched a massive mass media campaign to inform and educate people on dos and do nots.
(3) Sharing information with public through media.


APPEAL


People who have traveled from the affected countries in the past ten days and show symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) like fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing should immediately contact the telephone number given below or the nearby Government Hospital.
Your Queries on it and the answers

What is Swine Influenza?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that 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.

How many swine flu viruses are there?
Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

Swine Flu in Humans
Can humans catch swine flu?
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry). In addition, there have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. For example, an outbreak of apparent swine flu infection in pigs in Wisconsin in 1988 resulted in multiple human infections, and, although no community outbreak resulted, there was antibody evidence of virus transmission from the patient to health care workers who had close contact with the patient.

How common is swine flu infection in humans?
In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
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.

Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No.
Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
How does swine flu spread?
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What do we know about human-to-human spread of swine flu?
In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died 8 days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, the patient visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread influenza-like illness among the swine.

In follow-up studies, 76% of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.
How can human infections with swine influenza be diagnosed?
To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen would generally need to be collected within the first 4 to 5 days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to be shedding virus). However, some persons, especially children, may shed virus for 10 days or longer. Identification as a swine flu influenza A virus requires sending the specimen to CDC for laboratory testing.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?
There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

What other examples of swine flu outbreaks are there?
Probably the most well known is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy. The virus was transmitted to close contacts in a basic training environment, with limited transmission outside the basic training group. The virus is thought to have circulated for a month and disappeared. The source of the virus, the exact time of its introduction into Fort Dix, and factors limiting its spread and duration are unknown. The Fort Dix outbreak may have been caused by introduction of an animal virus into a stressed human population in close contact in crowded facilities during the winter. The swine influenza A virus collected from a Fort Dix soldier was named A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1N1).

Is the H1N1 swine flu virus the same as human H1N1 viruses?
No. The H1N1 swine flu viruses are antigenically very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human seasonal flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.
Swine Flu in Pigs

How does swine flu spread among pigs?
Swine flu viruses are thought to be spread mostly through close contact among pigs and possibly from contaminated objects moving between infected and uninfected pigs. Herds with continuous swine flu infections and herds that are vaccinated against swine flu may have sporadic disease, or may show only mild or no symptoms of infection.

What are signs of swine flu in pigs?
Signs of swine flu in pigs can include sudden onset of fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed.

How common is swine flu among pigs?
H1N1 and H3N2 swine flu viruses are endemic among pig populations in the United States and something that the industry deals with routinely. Outbreaks among pigs normally occur in colder weather months (late fall and winter) and sometimes with the introduction of new pigs into susceptible herds. Studies have shown that the swine flu H1N1 is common throughout pig populations worldwide, with 25 percent of animals showing antibody evidence of infection. In the U.S. studies have shown that 30 percent of the pig population has antibody evidence of having had H1N1 infection. More specifically, 51 percent of pigs in the north-central U.S. have been shown to have antibody evidence of infection with swine H1N1. Human infections with swine flu H1N1 viruses are rare. There is currently no way to differentiate antibody produced in response to flu vaccination in pigs from antibody made in response to pig infections with swine H1N1 influenza.

While H1N1 swine viruses have been known to circulate among pig populations since at least 1930, H3N2 influenza viruses did not begin circulating among US pigs until 1998. The H3N2 viruses initially were introduced into the pig population from humans. The current swine flu H3N2 viruses are closely related to human H3N2 viruses.
Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
Vaccines are available to be given to pigs to prevent swine influenza. There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal influenza vaccine will likely help provide partial protection against swine H3N2, but not swine H1N1 viruses.



CAUTION CAUTION CAUTION.........

Geneva, May 11 (DPA) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday said that 4,694 cases of the new influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 53 deaths, were confirmed in 30 countries.
Mexico had 48 deaths from 1,626 laboratory-confirmed human cases of infection. The USs had 2,532 infections, including three deaths and Canada reported 284 cases, with one death. Costa Rica was hit with eight instances of the virus, including one death.

In Europe, Spain was most affected, with 95 cases of what is also known as swine flu, and Britain had 47 infections, the health agency said on its Website.
Geneva, May 7 (DPA) A third of the world could potentially become infected with the new H1N1 influenza virus, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.
“Looking at past pandemics, a third of the world’s population could be infected,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s head of health security, said.

That would roughly be equal to two billion people.
So far, the UN health agency reported the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 infections stood at 2,099 in 23 countries, with a death toll of 44.
The rising number mostly reflected confirmed cases of the virus that was dubbed swine flu after it was first detected in Mexico late last month.
Fukuda could not estimate how many people would become seriously ill or die from an infection of the new virus, saying WHO was still trying to understand the nature of H1N1.
“Our spectrum of understanding of the virus is evolving,” he told reporters in Geneva.
WHO officials have said research was under way to create a vaccine for H1N1 and expected manufacturers could roll one out within four to six months. The number of doses that could be produced in the first year would likely be just above one billion.
WHO has maintained its pandemic influenza alert at phase 5, meaning human-to-human transmission at the community level was detected in two countries in one region, in this case North America.
Fukuda said he was not aware of any plans to raise the level to the highest, phase 6.
The WHO confirmed that Mexico had 42 deaths related to the disease. The US, which reported two deaths, was the only other country to report fatalities.
Mexico had 1,112 laboratory-confirmed cases, while the US had 642 such infections and Canada reported 201 instances, the WHO said.
In Europe, Spain remained hardest hit with 73 cases and Britain had 28 infections. Germany reported nine cases.
New Zealand had five cases and South Korea two. Israel, the only Middle Eastern country to report cases, had four confirmed infections.


IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS:


Outbreak Monitoring Cell (Control Room, NICD): 011-23921401
Important Websites: www.mohfw.nic.in
; www.nicd.nic.in (PIB)

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