New Delhi: The latest wave of H1N1 influenza, while less virulent, has already claimed 132 lives. So far, 708 cases have been reported in India. The virus, according to the union health ministry, will continue to spread in the community without acquiring pandemic or epidemic proportions.
What is H1N1 virus?
The H1N1 influenza, also known swine flu, first appeared in 2009. The disease is called swine flu because the virus that originally affected humans came from pigs. The virus is actually a mix of genes from swine, bird, and human flu viruses. In 2009, H1N1 influenza assumed pandemic proportions with cases sweeping the globe.
What are the symptoms of H1N1 influenza?
While most symptoms are similar to regular flu, in H1N1 patients are likely to have diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms include ever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Pregnant women, people living with asthma and other lung disease are more at risk of severe symptoms and bad outcomes once infected. H1N1 patients are usually contagious as long as they have symptoms—usually up to seven days.
How does the virus spread?
The infection spreads by droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those caring for H1N1 patients should use masks to cover their mouth. This will help in limiting the chances of infection spreading.
What is the treatment for H1N1 influenza?
In most cases, the patient can be treated at home. A patient should seek medical care in case of difficulty in breathing. Tamiflu or Relenza are drugs used effectively against the virus. An infected person is prescribed two capsules of Tamiflu per day for the first seven days. Once infected the patient becomes immune to the virus.
How many cases have been reported in India?
As per latest reports from the health ministry, over 700 cases have been reported in India. Prolonged winters have made it conducive for the virus to spread. Delhi and Rajasthan are amongst the most affected states with 142 cases and a death in Delhi was reported last week. In Rajasthan, the virus has claimed 11 lives and 82 cases have been reported in the past week alone.
State of the spread
The World Health Organization has declared the H1N1 pandemic over as of August 2010. In the post pandemic period, the virus is going to assume the character of seasonal influenza and will continue to spread for some years to come. The virus is now endemic in India—meaning that it is present in the community at all times but is expected to cause fewer casualties as the community grows resistance to the disease.