Swine Influenza A pandemic: H1N1 Virus

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Swine Influenza A outbreak has started in March, 2009 in Mexico. The number of suspected cases has increased to about 2000 while the death toll is increasing. Confirmed cases has been reported from the United States, Spain, Scotland and Canada. World Health Organization has increased the pandemic alert level from 3 to phase 4, meaning that “that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased, but not that a pandemic is inevitable”. Human to human transmission has evolved as cases without any contact with swine what so ever have occurred.

Swine Influenza A manifests with fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes with diarrhea and vomiting. The possibility of Swine Influenza A should be considered in any person who has had contact with cases or travelled to an area with confirmed cases during the preceding 7 days.

Treatment of Swine Influenza A is mainly supportive with rest, fluids, cough suppressants, antipyretics and analgesics. Swine Influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to antivrial agents oseltamivir and zanamivir. Antiviral therapy has to be initiated within 48 hours of onset of symptoms to be effective. Recommended duration of treatment with antiviral agents is for 5 days. Some benefits may be there even if antiviral treatment is started after 48 hours.

The usual influenza vaccine is not effective against Swine Influenza A. Antiviral prophylaxis, both pre exposure and post exposure have been recommended in those at high risk of acquiring the infection.

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