Thursday, 22 October 2015

Winning the Swine Flu Battle – H1N1 vaccine and its importance

Winning the Swine Flu Battle – H1N1 vaccine and its importance

Swine flu cases continue to be recorded from different parts of the country. Given this situation, basic prevention measures become essential. 

Swine Flu or H1N1 influenza is a viral respiratory infection, which strikes like a ‘common-cold' infection but is more severe in symptoms and the outcomes. The influenza virus mutates extremely fast and is highly infectious. The typical symptoms of Swine flu are a cough, sore throat, fever, headache chills and fatigue.

Speaking about this issue, Padma Shri Awardee Dr. A Marthanda Pillai – National President and Padma Shri Awardee Dr. K K Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General and President HCFI in a joint statement said, Prevention of Swine Flu mainly involves taking simple precautionary steps while coughing and maintaining respiratory and hand hygiene. Respiratory hygiene involves maintaining a distance of at least 3 feet from a person who is coughing and sneezing. Proper cough etiquette demands that the infected person ensures that he or she covers their mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and then disposes of the tissue immediately to stop the disease from spreading to others. In a case where a tissue may not be available, it is best to cough and sneeze into one's upper sleeves and not in their hands or a handkerchief. Sneezing and coughing into one's hands/ using a handkerchief are reasons why the disease spreads at such a rapid pace. In addition to this, vaccination is recommended specially in high risk individuals.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released its recommendations that all persons aged six months or older should receive H1N1 influenza vaccine. A priority list of population groups for vaccine administration should be followed, if the vaccine supply is limited. This includes pregnant women,
individuals from 6 months through 24 years of age, household contacts and caregivers of children younger than six months of age, individuals from 25 through 64 years of age with health conditions associated with increased risk of influenza complications and healthcare and emergency medical services personnel

Drug therapy: Recommendations

Antiviral therapy should be promptly given to
·         Children, adolescents, or adults with suspected or confirmed influenza infection and any of the following features
·         Illness requiring hospitalization
·         Progressive, severe, or complicated illness, regardless of previous health status
·         Suspected or confirmed influenza infection who were at high risk for complications including:
o   Children <5 years of age, particularly those <2 years of age
o   Adults ≥65 years of age
o   Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum (including those who have had pregnancy loss)
o   Individuals with certain medical conditions

Antiviral therapy be started as soon as possible in patients who are severely immunosuppressed such as those receiving treatment for malignancies, hematopoietic or solid organ transplant recipients and present with an acute respiratory illness

Patients with morbid obesity (BMI >40) and possibly those with obesity (BMI 30 to 39) with suspected or confirmed pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus infection should be carefully evaluated for the presence of conditions that confer an increased risk of influenza complications. If any such conditions were present, treatment is recommended.

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