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Swine Flu

A swine flu outbreak has been reported from more than a dozen states in the country, with Rajasthan being the worst affected.

When was Swine Flu first detected?

1. Also known as H1N1, the virus was first detected in April 2009 in a ten-year-old girl in California, USA.

2. In June 2009 it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.

3. India reported its first death due to H1N1 infection in August the same year.

4. Since then nearly six lakh people have died worldwide from swine flu.

Who are at high risk?

Certain groups are at particularly high risk of contracting swine flu. These include:

a) Pregnant women and young children especially those under two years of age

b) People with asthma, people with COPD or other chronic lung conditions

c) People with cardiovascular conditions (except high blood pressure).

d) People with liver and kidney problems.

e) People with blood disorders, neurologic disorders, neuromuscular disorders, metabolic disorders including diabetes.

f) People with immune suppression including HIV infection and medications that suppress the immune system.

g) The elderly.

How it can be identified?

 1. Symptoms of H1N1 swine flu are like those of regular flu. These include- fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

2. It also involves diarrhea and vomiting.

3. It can trigger neurological symptoms in children, which is rare but can be very severe and fatal.

4. Neurological symptoms include seizures or changes in mental status including confusion or sudden cognitive or behavioral changes.

Why is it serious?

1. Though the symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu, the seasonal flu vaccine won't protect against swine flu.

2. It has become a circulating virus making it more frequent and common.

3. H1N1 is highly contagious and spreads quickly from one person to another.

4. The most common mechanism of its spreading is by droplets from coughs and sneezes of infected people.

5. It also spreads by touching a surface or the hand of a person contaminated with the virus and then touching one's eyes nose or mouth.

6. The outbreak of swine flu is also being attributed to cold weather which is conducive for the viral multiplication.

Where swine flu has affected the most?

1. The current outbreak of swine flu in the country has hit the state of Rajasthan the most with 76 deaths and nearly 2,000 positive cases.

2. The current situation arising from swine flu and the measures undertaken by the government to prevent the spread of the disease:

2. It has also affected Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

3. In southern parts of India, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana are the most affected.

What are the other fatal viruses?

 Marburg virus:

1. The Marburg virus is a hemorrhagic fever virus which causes convulsions and bleeding of mucous membranes skin and organs.

2. It has a fatality rate of 90%.

Kyasanur Forest Virus:

1. It is another deadly virus that was discovered in the southwestern coast of India in 1955.

2. It is difficult to determine any carriers of the virus.

3. People infected with this virus suffer from high fever, strong headaches and muscle pain which can cause bleedings.

Ebola Virus:

1. Ebola has been deadly.

2. There are five strains of the Ebola virus each named after countries and regions in Africa- Zaire, Sudan, Tai forest, Bundibugyo and Reston.

3. Zaire Ebola virus is the deadliest with a mortality rate of 90%.

Bird Flu:

1. The spread of bird flu also triggers panic with a mortality rate of 70%.

2. The H5N1 strain of this virus is contracted through direct contact with poultry and hence mostly infects those who work at the poultry farms or live in the vicinity.

Hantavirus:

1. The hantavirus is also one of the deadliest viruses across the world.

2. Symptoms include lung disease fever and kidney failure.

Lassa virus:

1. The Lassa virus is transmitted by rodents.

2. The virus occurs in a specific region like western Africa and can reoccur in that region at any time.

Junin virus:

1. The Argentine Junin virus is associated with hemorrhagic fever.

2. Infected people suffer from tissue inflammation, sepsis and skin bleeding.

3. The disease is rarely detected in the initial days as the symptoms appear to be common.

Machupo virus:

1. The Machupo virus is the cause of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever also known as black typhus.

2. It causes high fever often accompanied by heavy bleedings.

3. The virus is carried by the rodents and it spreads from human to human.

Crimean-Congo virus:

1. The Crimean-Congo virus is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by ticks.

2. Its symptoms include fever, muscle pains, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding into the skin.

Dengue:

1. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and affects people mostly occurring in tropical areas.

2. India faces the epidemic year after year.

All these diseases don't have a specific treatment. All these infections can turn serious can cause death. They need supportive treatment. There is no specific vaccination or specific treatment. So, they require supportive treatment.

Which are the measures taken by the government?

1. The Union Health Ministry has advised all state health officials to strengthen their surveillance for early detection.

2. It has also asked them to keep beds reserved in hospitals to deal with acute cases of swine flu.

3. State health departments have been directed to equip all government hospitals with necessary logistics required for the management of the disease like the drug oseltamivir along with personal protective equipment and masks.

4. Guidelines on case diagnosis, management, vaccination, isolation criteria, risk categorization and preventive measures have been circulated among all hospitals and health facilities.

5. Health advisories on influenza and swine flu have been prepared and issued for the general public in leading newspapers.

6. A 24/7 helpline number has been made operational where people can make queries with the director-general of health services.

7. A team from the National Center for Disease Control was also sent to Rajasthan on an investigative mission.