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H1N1 (swine) flu

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. Now it spread to India also. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

How serious is H1N1 (swine) flu infection?
Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (swine) flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.

Common Symptoms of the H1N1 Flu Infection:
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu including:

  • Fever, moderately high, but unlike seasonal flu, can be absent in some cases too
  • Non productive Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Body ache
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue/tiredness that can be extreme
  • Nausea/diarrhoea
  • Signs of a more serious swine flu infection might include pneumonia and respiratory failure

The high risk groups for novel H1N1 flu are not known at this time, but it’s possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza. People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu include people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).

Emergency Warning Signs
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough


In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

H1N1 Precautions:

1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

3.Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. The virus can spread this way.

4. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

5. If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Avoid Contact with Others
1. If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill.

2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket.

3. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

Effective Treatments for H1N1
Most cases of flu, including human swine flu, need no treatment other than symptom relief. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, your doctor may prescribe additional medication to decrease inflammation, open your airways and help clear lung secretions.
Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of symptoms. Two classes of antiviral medications are used to reduce symptoms and duration of the flu — adamantane antivirals and neuraminidase inhibitors — but flu viruses can develop resistance to them.
Human swine flu H1N1 is sensitive to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), both of which are neuraminidase inhibitors. It's important to start treatment as soon as possible after you become ill. These antiviral medications are most effective if treatment begins within 48 hours of developing symptoms.