Swine Flu - Current Epidemic

Patient Education

Swine flu is caused by influenza A H1N1 virus, which is just another type of flu virus, just like that causes our typical seasonal flu symptoms. The difference is that the current swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is new and most of us don't have any immunity to it. That is why it so easily became a pandemic virus (with the ability to cause a global outbreak) because it could easily spread from person to person.

Swine Flu Symptoms

According to the CDC, like seasonal flu, symptoms of swine flu infections can include:

  • fever, which is usually high, but unlike seasonal flu, is sometimes absent
  • cough
  • runny nose or stuffy nose
  • sore throat
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
  • diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes, but more commonly seen than with seasonal flu
  • Signs of a more serious swine flu infection might include pneumonia and respiratory failure.

If your child has symptoms of swine flu, you should avoid other people and call your pediatrician who might do a rapid flu test to see if he has an influenza A infection. Further testing can then be done to see if it is a swine flu infection.

Swine Flu High Risk Groups

With regular seasonal flu, young children and the elderly are usually thought to be most at risk for serious infections, in addition to people with chronic medical problems. Swine flu high-risk groups, people who are thought to be at risk for serious, life-threatening infections, are a little different and can include:

  • pregnant women
  • children under age two years old
  • people with chronic medical problems, such as chronic lung disease, like asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and immunosuppression
  • children and adults with obesity

It is important to keep in mind that unlike seasonal flu, more than half of the hospitalizations and a quarter of the deaths from swine flu are in young people under the age of 25.

Serious Swine Flu Symptoms

As with other conditions, more serious symptoms that would indicate that a child with swine flu would need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing

Bluish or gray skin color

Not drinking enough fluids

Severe or persistent vomiting

Not waking up or not interacting

Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Swine Flu Symptoms vs. a Cold or Sinus Infection

It is important to keep in mind most children with a runny nose or cough will not have flu and will not have to see their pediatrician for swine flu testing.

During cold and flu season, many other childhood conditions are common, including:

  • fall allergies - runny nose, congestion, and cough
  • common cold - runny nose, cough, and low-grade fever
  • sinus infections - lingering runny nose, cough, and fever
  • strep throat - sore throat, fever, and a positive strep test

What You Need To Know

Swine flu likely spreads by direct contact with the respiratory secretions of someone that is sick with swine flu, like if they were coughing and sneezing close to you.

People with swine flu are likely contagious for one day before and up to seven days after they began to get sick with swine flu symptoms.

Droplets from a cough or sneeze can also contaminate surfaces, such as a doorknob, drinking glass, or kitchen counter, although these germs likely don't survive for more than a few hours.

Anti-flu medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), are available to prevent and treat swine flu in high-risk children.

How to Protect Your Child and Family from Swine Flu (H1N1 Flu)

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

1. www.who.int
2. www.cdc.gov
3. www.mohfw.nic.in

Swine Flu - Current Epidemic Swine Flu - Current Epidemic https://www.pediatriconcall.com/show_article/default.aspx?main_cat=infectious-diseases&sub_cat=swine-flu-current-epidemic&url=swine-flu-current-epidemic-patient-education 2015-08-01
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