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All you want to know about Swine (H1N1) Flu

Posted by : Mr. Sreehari Nair, 20 Feb 2015 12:24 PM
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Swine Flu is making headlines in the nation. With more than 5000 officially registered cases across the country, it is imperative to be aware about this influenza

What is Swine (H1N1) Flu?

H1N1 influenza is a contagious acute respiratory disease caused by Influenza A virus - a member of the Orthomyxoviridae family. Influenza A has 16 distinct H subtypes and 9 distinct N subtypes, of which only H1, H2, H3, N1, and N2 have been associated with epidemics of disease in humans. Spread of infection is through droplets (upto 3 feet), fomite contact (2-8hr).

What are the Swine Flu symptoms?

Swine flu signs and symptoms are similar to those of other flu strains.  Look for these signs: Fever, Cough, Sore Throat, Runny or Stuffy Nose, Body aches, Headache, Chills, Fatigue, Diarrhea and Vomiting. 

How does the virus spread?

H1N1 is a flu virus and it spreads in the same way as seasonal flu through airborne cough and sneeze germs.

  • Incubation Period: 1-4 days (avg 2 days)
  • Period of Infectivity: 1 day prior to symptom onset and upto 7 days from symptom onset or 24 hour after fever and respiratory symptoms subside whichever is longer.
  • The estimated secondary attack rates of H1N1: 22% to 33%

Why influenza spreads faster?

The influenza spreads faster because of short incubation period, large number of subclinical cases, high population of susceptible population, short lived immunity, and absence of cross-immunity.

What’s the case definition of H1N1 influenza?

A suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection:
A suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person with acute febrile respiratory illness (fever ≥ 380 C) with onset:

  • Within 7 days of close contact with a person who is a confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, or
  • Within 7 days of travel to areas where there are one or more confirmed swine influenza A(H1N1) cases, or
  • Resides in a community where there are one or more confirmed swine influenza cases.

A probable case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection:
A person with an acute febrile respiratory illness who:

  • Is positive for influenza A, but unsubtypable for H1 and H3 by influenza RT-PCR or reagents used to detect seasonal influenza virus infection, or
  • Is positive for influenza A by an influenza rapid test or an influenza immunofluorescence assay (IFA) plus meets criteria for a suspected case, or
  • Individual with a clinically compatible illness who died of an unexplained acute respiratory illness who is considered to be epidemiologically linked to a probable or confirmed case.

A confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection:
A person with an acute febrile respiratory illness with laboratory confirmed swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection at WHO approved laboratories by one or more of the following tests:

  • Real Time PCR
  • Viral culture
  • Four-fold rise in swine influenza A (H1N1) virus specific neutralizing antibodies.

Who are at Higher Risk for Complications of Influenza?

  • Children from birth to 4 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • Persons ≥65 years old
  • Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years old) who are receiving long-term aspiri therapy and therefore may be at risk for developing Reye’s syndrome after influenza. 
  • Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular system including asthma
  • Adults and children who have chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction hemoglobinopathies, or immunodeficiency (including immunodeficiency caused by medications or by HIV)
  • Adults and children who have any condition that can compromise respiratory function or compromise the handling of respiratory secretions or can increase the risk of aspiration. 


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