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'People living in crowded environments are more vulnerable to Swine Flu. '

How to prevent Swine Flu and what to do if one is infected? Here are the tips as under;

Q. What are the symptoms of swine flu? What are the precautions which can be taken? Also, in the recent times people say that H1N1 virus got mutated. So, if you get infected, is that Tamiflu is suffice to get cured. 

A. Swine flu can have symptoms including sore throat, fever, headache and body aches. In severe cases, it may cause pneumonia with unresponsive fever, breathlessness, chest pain and phlegm. Precautions include annual flu vaccination especially in children, elderly and patients with co-morbid conditions including heart, kidney or diabetes problems.In case of flu, use handkerchiefs, tissues while coughing and sneezing. Avoid going to work in case of flu so that the infection does not pass on to other colleagues. The flu vaccine is issued every year depending on the prevalent strains during that year. Some mutant strains of influenza virus maybe resistant to Tamiflu but most strains are susceptible and the medication works well.

Q. Does eating chicken cause Swine Flu?
A. No, eating chicken does not cause Swine Flu.

Q. How to prepare kids to be safe at schools and public places? 
A. Firstly, vaccinate your children at start of flu season preferably in October every year when the new vaccine for the season is issued. Secondly, teach children about hygiene practices regarding coughing and sneezing including using handkerchiefs, tissues and hand sanitizers. Thirdly, do not send a child to school if he has flu-most children catch infections in play-schools or at school. Fourthly, avoid crowded places.

Q. What to do if one is infected?
A. Consult your doctor so that he can assess the severity of your illness. Most people will recover with just symptomatic medication including paracetamol and anti-allergics. There is no role of antibiotics. Only in severe cases or people with other illnesses like kidney, heart, liver diseases, pregnancy etc or if the symptoms are severe, doctor will order the swine-flu test and start Tamiflu.

Q. How to prevent Swine Flu? 
A. Best option is the flu vaccine but a word of caution-it does not cover for all strains of influenza/common cold.The current vaccine does include the H1N1 strain.It takes 2-3 weeks before the vaccine starts building immunity 2. Avoid contact with people with flu 3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including diet.

Q. Is Swine Flu seasonal? 
A. Swine Flu cases peak during the winter between October and January but isolated cases can happen any time of the year.

Q. How is Swine Flu different from common cold? 
A. It is a virus belonging to the same family as the other influenza viruses that cause cold. However, there are other types of viruses also which cause common cold. The epidemic outbreak in 2009 was due to H1N1/swine flu virus. It is contagious and can cause complications including pneumonia and respiratory failure. Otherwise most people with swine flu also present with sore throat only like any other cold.

Q. Some one said take flu vaccine every year is like burning the house to kill a rat? 
A. The choice of administering the vaccine to select group of patients including elderly, children or patients with co-morbid illnesses can be made with the help of your doctor. Large data indicates the vaccine is efficacious but it is also expensive. At the same time, man-hours lost due to sickness and inability to work also matters.

Q. Do we observe any specific areas/regions where swine flu is more prevalent or is it uniform in all places? 
A. Swine Flu is prevalent in all areas but people living /working in crowded environments are more vulnerable since it is contagious.

Q. Should one avoid eating pork during swine flu season? 
A. No, it is not transmitted through pork.

Q. Do we have any mortality % data for Swine Flu infections?
A. The data provided by the Delhi Government at present is the only data available right now.

Q. Do we have to undergo any test if we have common cold, to find out if if it's swine flu or not? 
A. Let your doctor decide if you need the test or not-the test is expensive and not everybody needs to undergo testing.

Q. How is swine flu detected? 
A. It is detected by doing a nose and throat swab which checks for presence of H1N1/swine flu and also seasonal influenza A virus.

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