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Swine Flu in Human
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons having direct exposure to pigs. In addition, there have been sporadic cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. Occasional human swine influenza virus infection occurs every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.
SWINE FLU OUTBREAK Recently, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been recently reported in several countries. This is a novel influenza A virus that has not been identified in people before, and human-to-human transmission of the virus appears to be ongoing and thus represents a real pandemic threat. SYMPTOMS The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza like fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and cough. Some people have also reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. DIAGNOSIS OF SWINE FLU For diagnosis of swine influenza A infection, respiratory specimen would generally need to be collected within the first 4 to 5 days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to be shedding virus). However, some persons, especially children, may shed virus for 10 days or longer. TRANSMISSION
- Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs.
- Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs.
- Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu which is mainly person-to person transmission through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the influenza virus.
- Disease spreads very quickly among the population especially in crowded places.
- Cold and dry weather enables the virus to survive longer outside the body than in other conditions and, as a consequence, seasonal epidemics in temperate areas appear in winter.
- People may become infected by touching/handling something contaminated with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
- Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food.
- Eating properly handled and cooked pork (at an internal temperature of ≥160°F) and pork products is safe.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES There is currently no vaccine available against human swine influenza. One has to follow proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquettes. Do’s and Don’ts:
- Avoid close contact with people who are having respiratory illness.
- Sick persons should keep distance from others.
- If possible, stay at home, away from work, school, and public places when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing.
- If you have no tissue or handkerchief you should not clean the nose with the hands but with the cuff of your shirt or clothes.
- Washing your hands often with soap or alcohol based hand wash will help protect from germs.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- Persons who develop influenza-like-illness (ILI) (fever with either cough or sore throat) should be strongly encouraged to selfisolate in their home for 7 days after the onset of illness or at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.
- Persons who experience ILI and wish to seek medical care should contact their health care providers to report illness (by telephone or other remote means) before seeking care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital.
- Persons who have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath should seek immediate medical attention and report to the nearby hospital.
- If ill persons must go into the community (e.g., to seek medical care) they should wear a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the community.
- If a face mask is unavailable, ill persons needing to go into the community should use a handkerchief or tissues to cover any coughing and sneezing.
- Persons in home isolation and their household members should be given infection control instructions like frequent hand washing with soap and water; use of alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60%alcohol).
- When the ill person is within 6 feet of others at home, the ill person should wear a face mask, if available or handkerchief or tissues.
Household contacts who are well should:
- remain home at the earliest sign of illness;
- minimize contact in the community to the extent possible;
- designate a single household family member as the ill person’s caregiver to minimize interactions with asymptomatic persons.
Precautions for School children:
- Schools with a confirmed or a suspected case should be considered for closure.
- All school or childcare related gatherings should be cancelled and encourage parents and students to avoid congregating outside of the school.
- Schools and childcare facilities should bar students for a time period to be evaluated on an ongoing basis depending upon epidemiological findings.
- Schools and childcare facilities should consult with their local or state health departments for guidance on reopening. If no additional confirmed or suspected cases are identified among students (or school-based personnel) for a period of 7 days, schools may consider reopening Schools and childcare facilities in unaffected areas should begin to prepare for the possibility of school or childcare facility closure.
Social Distancing Interventions:
- Large gatherings linked to settings or institutions with laboratory-confirmed cases should be cancelled, for example a school event linked to a school with cases; other large gatherings in the community may not need to be cancelled at this time.
- Additional social distancing measures are currently not recommended.
- Persons with underlying medical conditions who are at high risk for complications of influenza may wish to consider avoiding large gatherings.