Friday, October 16, 2015

Seasonal flu causes more mortality than Swine Flu

There is no need to panic but prevention is essential

Respiratory hygiene can go a long way in preventing the disease from spreading.

With the second Swine Flu death being reported in the Capital, panic has grappled the residents of the city. Given this scenario, awareness generation is crucial. People must be made aware of the fact that there is no increased mortality in the case of Swine Flu patients as compared to normal flu cases. In fact, season flu has a death rate that is 10 times higher than that due to Swine Flu. Thus, if Swine flu kills one in 10 lakh people every year, one in 1 lakh die due to seasonal flu.

Swine Flu is akin to the ordinary flu, and has symptoms like fever, coryza (runny nose), cough, sore throat, bodyache, headache and malaise. Some patients may also have other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and rash on the body. These symptoms last for 1-2 weeks. If a patient reports severe breathlessness and blood on coughing, he or she should immediately be taken to a hospital for tests and admission. When a patient has temperature along with coryza and breathlessness, he or she should be attended to by a doctor and admitted to a hospital for customized medical assistance. These might be the warning signs of severe influenza flu (swine or otherwise).

Speaking on the issue, Padma Shri Awardees Dr A Marthanda Pillai National President Indian Medical Association and Dr K K Agarwal  said, “To safeguard oneself, the foremost precaution that susceptible individuals can take is to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccines can prevent flu caused by human strains, and are recommended in children above 6 months of age, people older than 50 years, patients with pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic disorders and diabetes mellitus; pregnant females and health care providers.”

Cough and respiratory hygiene can prevent Swine Flu. Some basic steps include:

• Do not cough in the hands or handkerchief; cough on the sleeves of the shirt or in a disposable tissue.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and wash hands if they get soiled with respiratory secretions

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water to wash away the germs.

• Avoid touching face (mouth and nose) with your hands.

• Avoid touching or maintaining close proximity to any person who is coughing or is sneezing.

• Maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from a person who is coughing or sneezing.

• Avoid shaking hands with individuals during the flu season.

• Patients who have symptoms should stay indoors.

• Avoid going to office/schools or in crowded locations till the time their symptoms subside.

Many people do not know that most Swine Flu patients can be managed on an outpatient basis and do not require hospitalization.

Chemoprophylaxis is only recommended for symptomatic patients at the discretion of a doctor. These include pregnant women and those suffering from concomitant illnesses (like diabetes, heart or respiratory illnesses or end-organ failures). Antiviral medications are the first-line of treatment and most cases respond to Oseltamivir.

Best regards,
Vinay Kapoor

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