Archive for the ‘Swine Flu’ Category
CNN – Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,Children’s Medical Group -Â answers a viewers question -Â How can I keep my family healthy if one of us has H1N1?
Asked by Kim, Georgia
“My son was found to have H1N1 flu and has to stay home from school. How can we keep the rest of the family from getting sick?”
Thanks for your question. Many of the patients I see in my practice have voiced similar concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1 million Americans have been infected with H1N1 influenza since April 2009. There is a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting H1N1 from a household contact, although studies vary, and the risk may be much higher. Here are some steps I advise my patients to take to minimize their chances of getting this illness.
Keep your distance. Place your child in a separate room of house as much as possible, and consider taking his meals to him. People who are at high risk of complications from influenza (such as young children under 5, pregnant women and individuals with certain medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease) are advised to stay at least 6 feet away, so as to avoid being exposed to droplets from the sick person’s coughs or sneezes.
Hands off. Avoid holding or shaking hands with sick people in general. In fact, I try to avoid shaking hands whenever possible, especially during cold and flu season. If hand-to-hand contact occurs, wash your hands or use a sanitizer rub immediately afterwards.
Keep objects and surfaces clean. Occupy your child with books and toys that can be washed easily. Clean doorknobs, refrigerator handles and sink faucets with a household disinfectant.
Discourage sharing. Germs are one of the few things in life you won’t want your child to share so avoid sharing drinks, utensils and towels.
Cover the cough. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue (and then throw it away and wash his hands right away) or into his sleeve or elbow. You may also wish to cover his face (or yours) with a face mask that fits as snugly as comfortably possible.
Consider antiviral medicines. Medications such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) taken by household members may help prevent them from developing H1N1 infection. Ask your doctor if this type of prevention is recommended for your situation.
Cuddle carefully. If you hug your child while he’s sick, do so with your face turned away from his. Avoid kissing on the mouth.
Air out your home. Open the windows or turn on a fan in common areas such as kitchens, family rooms and bathrooms.
Bide your time. People tend to get sick from H1N1 within about seven days of being exposed to someone with the illness. The sick person is most contagious during the first few days of influenza, although infants and young children can continue shedding the virus for longer than a week. If a week has passed since your son first got sick and you don’t have any symptoms, there’s a good chance you will not become infected by him.
Here’s the most important advice you’ll get on how to protect your family during the Swine Flu Pandemic.Â Straightforward, no nonsense insight on how to keep swine flu at bay – keep your children from getting the flu AND what to do if you or your kids become infected with the swine flu.Â Did you know there are two types of swine flu?Â Read more here
Tuesday, August 25, 2009Â
The first swine flu precaution that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests for parents: As soon as a vaccine is available, try to get it for everyone in your family.
Following are other CDC recommendations for parents:
– All members of the household should wash their hands frequently, using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antibacterial soaps are no better than ordinary soaps, since swine flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria.
– Teach children to use tissues to cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are unavailable, the crook of an elbow or a shoulder is a good substitute — not the hands, which can spread the virus to whatever they touch.
– Anyone who becomes sick — flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, coughing, chills, fatigue and a runny nose — should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. If symptoms worsen, children should extend their stay at home for seven more days, no matter how soon they feel better. This means home, not just out of school: “Children shouldn’t be . . . mixing in crowds or going to malls when they are sick,” said Lance Chilton, a member of the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices. And once any member of a household gets sick, all school-age children should remain home for five days.
– Children should receive emergency care if their breathing becomes rapid or if they have trouble breathing, develop bluish or gray skin color or severe or persistent vomiting, or if their flulike symptoms improve but come back with a fever and more severe cough. Resistance to drinking adequate amounts of water, irritability and a difficulty waking up and interacting with others are also warning signs.
Adults who experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting and flulike symptoms that improve but come back with a fever and more severe cough should also seek emergency care.
Besides the CDC Web site, http://www.cdc.gov, information on the H1N1 virus can be found at these sites:
The Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/swine-flu/AN02000
U.S. government: http://www.flu.gov
The most at-risk segment of the population — pregnant women, those with chronic diseases, healthcare and emergency medical workers, and children — will be the first recipients, the Centers for Disease Control indicated.
Public health experts say people might be asked to stay away from crowded areas for up to four months to keep spread of H1N1 to a minimum. Dr. Bruce Lee, a University of Pittsburgh infectious diseases expert, said such “social distancing” measures can help to lessen the epidemic.
“Pay very close attention to what the CDC and what other public health officials are saying and take it seriously,” he said.
Some federal government estimates indicate up to 40 percent of the population could get swine flu in the next two years.
By Tan Ee Lyn
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Frequent handwashing and the wearing of face masks at home can help reduce the transmission of influenza viruses within the household if the measures are implemented in good time, a study in Hong Kong has found.
The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are seen as important as patients may need to be quarantined at home in a pandemic if hospitals run short of isolation facilities.
“During a pandemic, resources may not be available to isolate all infected individuals, and home isolation of some patients may be required,” the researchers wrote.
“Our results suggest that hand hygiene and facemasks can reduce influenza virus transmission if implemented early after symptom onset in an index patient.”
Led by public health expert Ben Cowling at the University of Hong Kong, the researchers recruited patients who tested positive for either influenza A or B.
Along with other household members, they were then randomly assigned to one of three groups – one with some health education, a second that undertook to wash hands frequently and a third undertook to wash hands and wear surgical facemasks.
Of the 259 households completing the study, 60 household members were found infected in the seven days after the measures were introduced. But there were fewer transmissions in households where the two measures were implemented in timely fashion.
“Hand hygiene and facemasks seemed to prevent household transmission of influenza virus when implemented within 36 hours of index patient symptom onset,” the researchers wrote.
“These findings suggest that non-pharmaceutical interventions are important for mitigation of pandemic and interpandemic influenza.”
(Editing by Ron Popeski)
LONDON, England (CNN) — British airlines have put into effect measures to stop people with swine flu boarding flights in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Medical screening for the swine flu virus has been introduced at many airports.
British Airways said there had been a “very small number of cases” where people who had checked in with symptoms of H1N1 had been advised not to travel after having medical checks.
Virgin Atlantic also said victims would not be allowed to board one of its planes without a fit-to-fly certificate from their doctor or a hospital, though there had been no cases yet.
The World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic June 11. More than 120 countries have reported cases of human infection. About 98,000 cases have been documented worldwide, with 440 deaths, according to the WHO.
With 29 deaths and a huge rise in the number of cases, Britain has the worst swine flu figures in Europe.
Eight British schoolchildren remained in hospital in China on Monday after contracting swine flu on a trip to the country, the Foreign Office said. The teenagers were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus in Beijing. More than 50 of their classmates and teachers are also quarantined in a hotel.
Medical screening for the swine flu virus has been introduced at many airports around the world for passengers arriving on international flights but there are concerns that many people may not be aware they are infected.
Those who do have symptoms have been advised by Britain’s health authorities to delay their journeys until the signs have cleared up.
“We have a medical team within the airline as well as a contingency planning group which has met for the past few years to look at the issue of a flu pandemic,” A British Airways spokeswoman said.
“We have a wide range of contingency plans in place which we can use depending on how the situation may evolve.
“If we have concerns about a customer or the customer is concerned, then we have a 24-hour medical service we can call to give advice to staff.
“They will speak to the customer and an assessment will be made about their fitness to fly.
“There have been a number of cases where we have advised customers not to fly on the basis of their diagnosis or symptoms of H1N1.”
BA told CNN Monday though that it was “business as usual” and all flights were operating normally.
Virgin Atlantic spokesman Paul Charles said: “If there are signs of something being wrong, be it excessive sneezing or coughing, not looking well, high temperature, then the airport staff can call in a medical team for extra advice.
“If the medical team believe there are reasons not to fly, the passenger will be asked to produce a fit to fly certificate from their doctor or a hospital, and they will be put at our cost on to the next available flight.”
Swine flu has spread so rapidly and extensively around the globe that the World Health Organization is changing tactics against the H1N1 virus, including stopping a tally of cases and focusing on unusual patterns.
“At this point, further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new countries, is considered inevitable,” the WHO said.
The counting of all cases is no longer essential because it is exhausting countries’ resources, the organization said.
“In some countries, this strategy is absorbing most national laboratory and response capacity, leaving little capacity for the monitoring and investigation of severe cases, and other exceptional events.”
Monitoring is still required, the organization urged, but should focus on exceptional patterns.
“Because the numbers of cases have increased in so many countries, it is very hard to keep up,” Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general, said earlier this month.
Laboratories have been inundated with testing requests and the virus is showing up in most lab tests in countries with major outbreaks, he said.
The organization said it will not issue global tables showing confirmed cases for countries that have reported cases, according to the release.
However, it will still report on nations that have not had cases so that its presence can be confirmed. “WHO will continue to request that these countries report the first confirmed cases and, as far as feasible, provide weekly aggregated case numbers and descriptive epidemiology of the early cases.”
Meanwhile, governments should should be on the lookout for unusual patterns, the organization said.
While most patients have reported mild symptoms, a rise in severe symptoms or respiratory ailments that require hospitalization should be cause for concern, it said. Governments should also pay attention to unusual patterns linked to fatal cases, the WHO said.
Any changes in prevailing patterns should be flagged, including a rise in school and job absenteeism, and an increase in visits to the emergency room.
An overwhelmed health system may mean there is a rise in severe cases, the organization said.
What is Swine Influenza?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.
How many swine flu viruses are there?
Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.
Swine Flu in Humans
Can humans catch swine flu?
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry). In addition, there have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. For example, an outbreak of apparent swine flu infection in pigs in Wisconsin in 1988 resulted in multiple human infections, and, although no community outbreak resulted, there was antibody evidence of virus transmission from the patient to health care workers who had close contact with the patient.
How common is swine flu infection in humans?
In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported. For information on the number of probable and confirmed cases of novel H1N1 flu in humans see Novel H1N1 Flu Situation Update.
Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160Â°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
How does swine flu spread?
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What do we know about human-to-human spread of swine flu?
In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died 8 days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, the patient visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread influenza-like illness among the swine. In follow-up studies, 76% of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.
How can human infections with swine influenza be diagnosed?
To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen would generally need to be collected within the first 4 to 5 days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to be shedding virus). However, some persons, especially children, may shed virus for 7 days or longer. Identification as a swine flu influenza A virus requires sending the specimen to CDC for laboratory testing.
What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?
There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent H1N1 influenza viruses isolated fromÂ humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine.
What other examples of swine flu outbreaks are there?
Probably the most well known is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy. The virus was transmitted to close contacts in a basic training environment, with limited transmission outside the basic training group. The virus is thought to have circulated for a month and disappeared. The source of the virus, the exact time of its introduction into Fort Dix, and factors limiting its spread and duration are unknown. The Fort Dix outbreak may have been caused by introduction of an animal virus into a stressed human population in close contact in crowded facilities during the winter. The swine influenza A virus collected from a Fort Dix soldier was named A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1N1).
Swine Flu in Pigs
How does swine flu spread among pigs?
Swine flu viruses are thought to be spread mostly through close contact among pigs and possibly from contaminated objects moving between infected and uninfected pigs. Herds with continuous swine flu infections and herds that are vaccinated against swine flu may have sporadic disease, or may show only mild or no symptoms of infection.
What are signs of swine flu in pigs?
Signs of swine flu in pigs can include sudden onset of fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed.
How common is swine flu among pigs?
H1N1 and H3N2 swine flu viruses are endemic among pig populations in the United States and something that the industry deals with routinely. Outbreaks among pigs normally occur in colder weather months (late fall and winter) and sometimes with the introduction of new pigs into susceptible herds. Studies have shown that the swine flu H1N1 is common throughout pig populations worldwide, with 25 percent of animals showing antibody evidence of infection. In the U.S. studies have shown that 30 percent of the pig population has antibody evidence of having had H1N1 infection. More specifically, 51 percent of pigs in the north-central U.S. have been shown to have antibody evidence of infection with swine H1N1. Human infections with swine flu H1N1 viruses are rare. There is currently no way to differentiate antibody produced in response to flu vaccination in pigs from antibody made in response to pig infections with swine H1N1 influenza.
Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
Vaccines are available to be given to pigs to prevent swine influenza. There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal influenza vaccine will likely help provide partial protection against swine H3N2, but not swine H1N1 viruses.