Know Swine Flu

What is the Swine flu?

It is a respiratory disease that commonly infects pigs, but is not typically seen in humans. In the time spanning December 2005 through February 2009, just 12 human infections were reported in the United States. However, since March 2009, infection with a new strain of swine flu A (H1N1) has been increasing in the U.S. and internationally.

New viruses like H1N1 can develop into pandemics because no one has been exposed before, and therefore no one has immunity. However, the severity of the virus, along with how easily it’s spread, remains to be seen. What’s known already is now the virus is spreading from person-to-person, even among those who had no contact with animals and had never been to Mexico.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Swine Flu?

Swine flu is contagious and capable of spreading from person to person. The incubation period seems to be approximately 12 hours to 24 hours before symptoms appear. Like any flu, the symptoms can range from mild to severe, and include:

* Fever (100.5 degrees F or higher)
* Cough
* Sore throat
* Body aches (muscle aches)
* Diarrhea & Vomiting
* Headache
* Chills
* Fatigue

When diarrhea and vomiting are present see your doctor immediately as severe cases have progressed to pneumonia, respiratory failure and deaths.

How is it Diagnosed?

A respiratory specimen must be collected within the first four to five days of illness, when the infected person is most likely to be shedding the virus. However, some patients (such as children), may shed the virus for 10 days or longer, according to the CDC. Specimens must be sent to the CDC for laboratory testing in order to identify swine flu.

How Can You Catch Swine Flu?

Typically swine flu is spread through contact with infected pigs or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses. However, human-to-human spread has also been documented, which means you can catch it through others’ coughing or sneezing but most likely by directly touching an infected person or by indirectly touching something they touched recently that left the flu viruses on it and then touching or rubbing your eyes, mouth or nose (or possibly even your ears).

You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products, as the virus isn’t transmitted in food.

People with swine flu remain potentially contagious while symptoms are present and for up to seven days following the illness, although children can be contagious for even longer.

Steps to Minimize Your Risk of Catching Swine Flu

Some of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of swine flu and any other respiratory illness have nothing to do with pharmaceuticals and everything to do with simple everyday precautions, including:

* Washing your hands with soap and water often.

* Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throwing away the tissue.

* Surgical masks, which many people in Mexico are now wearing, can add a level of protection as you have likely seen on the news.

* Reducing, where possible, being in contact with masses of people in public places.

* Avoiding close contact with sick people.

* If feeling sick with what are above symptoms then go immediately to your doctor, clinic or hospital. Stay home from work or school, and limit close contact with others and wear a surgical mask especially in public places, as you don’t want to pass along the flu if you do get sick.

Having said so, Baba strongly believes that Indians have to gear up to face the challenge ahead. If all doesn't go well, India will have 100K deaths cause of Swine Flu by year 2012! Mind it before it's too late...