Swine flu claimed 38 more lives in the country taking the death toll to 812 with Rajasthan and Gujarat among the worst hit States with 212 and 207 fatalities respectively, as the total number of affected crossed 13,000, PTI reported. The virus is spreading to new places like Nagaland, reports added.
According to the Union Health Ministry figures released on Sunday, the total number of deaths due to the disease has now reached 812 while 13,688 people have been affected with the H1N1 virus across the country.
Health Ministry officials had on Saturday said that the number of people affected by swine flu was 12,963 while the number of deaths caused by the infection was 774 as per figures available till February 20, 2015.
A senior health official said that in comparison to on Saturday, there has been a dip in the number of fresh positive cases.
Central government figures show that 10,025 people have suffered from H1N1 virus so far this year, a new high in recent years.
What is Swine Flu?
Swine Flu, also known as H1N1 type A influenza, is a human disease. The name 'Swine Flu' stuck because originally the disease transmitted from pigs to humans. But the current pandemic break trasmits from human to human, according to this article on The Health Site.
Also known as pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu, H1N1 is not commonly known to transfer from pigs to humans and it does not always lead to human flu. In 2009, H1N1, or swine flu was called a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) because of its massive spread across the world.
According to Wikipedia, swine flu was first declared as a disease during the 1918 flu pandemic when pigs and humans fell sick at the same time.
What causes Swine Flu?
Swine Flu is a respiratory disease. A virus called swine influenza virus causes the disease. Swine Flu is mainly caused by SIV sub type H1N1, however other subtypes H1N2, H1N3, H3N1, H3N2 and H2N3 can also be reasons for Swine Flu.
The virus transmits from person to person through the same medium as other flu viruses. Swine Flu is very contagious. The disease is spread through saliva and mucus particles.
A simple sneeze may cause thousands of germs to spread through the air. The virus can linger on tables and surface areas like door knobs, waiting to be picked up.
An airborne disease, people who fail to follow proper hygiene, especially in crowded places are at a high risk of contracting the virus. But, according to observations, there are specific groups of people who are at high risk of getting infected. The group at a high risk includes:
- Individuals having any other respiratory condition like pneumonia
- Pregnant women
- People suffering from chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes
- People more than 65 years of age and children younger than 2 years
Why is Swine Flu dangerous?
The virus is constantly evolving and that's what makes the disease particularly dangerous. Because of its constantly evolving nature it is tough to acquire immunity against it. Also it’s very seasonal and keeps on changing depending on a lot of factors.
The number of cases shoot up during the summer and monsoon seasons. The current seasonal return of swine flu cases in Maharashtra has been attributed to fluctuating temperatures.
What are the symptoms of Swine Flu?
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Aching muscles and joints
The symptoms of Swine Flu is similar to regular flu which makes it tough to detect the disease. People with Swine Flu may be more likely to feel nauseous and throw up than people who have seasonal flu. But a lab test is the only way to know for sure.
How can you prevent or stay safe?
The best way to stay safe and keep the deadly disease at a distance is to get a flu shot or flu vaccine on a yearly basis. The virus is extremely contagious. The virus enters the body through the respiratory tract.
The vaccine may be given through an injection or nasal spray. Currently, injectable H1N1 vaccines available in the market are – Influvac, Agrippal, Vaxigrip, Vaxiflu-S and Fluarix.
The injections cost around Rs 600-700 per dose. The doctors advise people to get a repeat vaccine dose every year.
Although, here are a few do-s and dont-s that will help you stay healthy and safe:
- Cover your face while coughing or sneezing: And make sure people around you in office or home also follow this.
- Maintain a high level of personal hygiene: Always wash your hands before or after eating and particularly after returning from a public place.
- Wear surgical masks: If your city/area is swine-flu endemic, always wear a standard swine flu mask in public places. Ordinary face masks which sell like hot cakes might not give enough protection. If you do wear a face mask, don't reuse it. Face masks should be worn once and then thrown out.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Sleep: Get enough sleep of 8 hours every night to keep your immune system strong and ready to fight infection.
- Drink water: Keep your body hydrated by drinking water of about 8-10 glasses daily. This will help flush toxins out of your body while maintaining good moisture and mucous production in your sinuses.
- Eat immune-boosting foods: Eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and other vitamin-rich foods to keep your body strong and nourished.
God forbid if you get affected, here is what you do to cure it:
Medication is available to treat flu caused by the H1N1 virus. Vaccines are available at every hospital which includes: Antiviral medications – Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza) help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of serious complications.
One should only take these after a doctor’s prescription as indiscriminate use could lead to resistance to the virus.
The patient will need to hospitalized, isolated and put on a ventilator in severe cases.
Worst hit states:
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the worst-affected states with their respective tolls standing at 165, 144, 76 and 58, official figures said. On February 15 alone, Rajasthan reported 12 deaths while there were eight fresh casualties each in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, a report in the PTI said.
While Delhi and Tamil Nadu have reported a high incidence of swine flu cases, the death toll in the two states is relatively low due to high level of awareness and a better developed health sector.
Punjab has the highest ratio of the number of deaths to those affected by the disease. Thus, 25 of the 68 people who contracted the virus in the state this year have succumbed to swine flu, the PTI report added.
Health ministry officials said they have sent central teams to the worst-affected states like Rajasthan and Gujarat and have developed appropriate guidelines. "The government has already placed an order for enhancing stocks of diagnostic kits -- for testing for the H1N1 virus -- to be supplied to the lab network under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
Here's why you should not panic:
There is no need to panic over a seasonal disease but people should be cautious. The disease is transmitted from other cities and people during change in season.It is better to start timely treatment as per protocol.
According to a report in The Times of India, doctors say that there is nothing to panic till flu patients were careful of contracting secondary infections.
Arindam Biswas, consultant, department of medicine, RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, was quoted as saying, "High blood sugar or pneumonia makes you vulnerable. Generally, patients above the age of 50 years suffering from chronic ailments and those who have undergone a major surgery remain susceptible. For the rest, swine flu should be treated as normal flu. They have to be quarantined till the fever subsides, but they don't need hospitalization unless there is a respiratory disorder."
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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2015 11:17:46 IST