After spreading tentacles in western and southern parts of the country, swine flu has started taking its toll in Odisha where over eight deaths have been reported. Over 90 persons, including two doctors, have tested positive for the viral infection in the last two weeks. My City Links caught up with Dr. Sukant Dhar, Associate Professor, Medicine of SUM Hospital to find out more about the H1N1 virus and the preventive measures that can be taken to keep it at bay.
Elaborating about the disease, Dr. Dhar says, “Swine flu is a kind of fever caused by H1N1, a type of influenza virus. Influenza viruses can be generally divided under three categories – Influenza A, B and C. Swine flu comes under Category A. The nature of this virus is that it changes its structure every year and in every eight years, it appears with significant changes. The virus generally spreads more when the rainy season is about to end.”
On symptoms, he adds, “The symptoms are like any other viral infection. However, they can be divided into three types as per the condition of the patients. In the first stage, the patient suffers only from fever and may not require any treatment. In the second stage, patient may experience throat infection, fever and also mild body ache. This stage is crucial for those who have compromised immunity like HIV positive patients, people with heart problems, asthma and even diabetes. So, when detected with stage two symptoms, the patient needs to be treated properly after consultation with the doctor. The most dangerous stage is the third stage, where treatment is highly essential, failing which, the disease can become life-threatening.
Hospitalisation is a must for this stage. In fact, even after cure, the patient needs to be kept in isolation for a week to be on a safer side.”
Although swine flu has been claiming lives all over the country, creating a panic situation for many, Dr. Dhar suggests some precautions and home remedies which can be followed to keep the H1N1 virus away. “The first thing is to avoid crowd. Washing hands frequently is a must and also gargling can be done on a regular basis. Face masks can also be used. There are two kinds of masks available in the market, surgical mask and n 95 mask. The latter is considered more effective,” informs the doctor.
Although there are many vaccines available in the market,Dr. Dhar informs that the vaccines would be effective mostly if they have been administered before the rainy season. “Currently, the virus is already powerful and taking a vaccine may not help much. However, children below five years, elderly people and those who have compromised immunity should take the vaccine.”
As far as medicines are concerned, he informs, “Notwithstanding the fact that people are talking about preventive medicines in homeopathy or Ayurveda, the fact remains that the disease can only be cured by two types of medicines recommended by WHO – one is in the form of capsule and the other is a syrup, meant only for kids. This year, WHO has denied any nasal treatment for patients.”
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