Thursday, August 27, 2009

M.I.S - why you need to know about H1N1..


Why it's hitting children and pregnant women so hard??

What Is IT?

Swine flu, also known as A(H1N1) has been circulating since April. The current pandemic is caused by a previously unseen type which attacks the upper and lower airways.

Although it probably originated in pigs in Asia, it is now uniquely a human disease which is spreading very quickly around Ireland. At the time of going to press it was at a rate of at least 1,500 cases a week.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are like those of normal seasonal flu and include: fever that begins very suddenly, severe fatigue, a cough, a sore throat, a runny nose, headache and muscle aches. Some people have vomiting and diarrhoea.

While it is usually a mild disease, some people may develop complications such as pneumonia.

Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?

Dr Ronan Boland, Chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation's GP Committee, says there is no evidence to indicate that taking traditional cold remedies such as vitamin C will make any difference.

The best way to avoid swine flu is through regular and thorough hand-washing (scrub your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds, before rinsing and drying thoroughly).

Who are those considered to be in high-risk groups?

  • People with chronic lung, heart, kidney, liver, neurological disease (such as Parkinson's), diabetes or lowered immune systems.
  • People aged 65 years and older.
  • Children under the age of five years (children under the age of two years are at higher risk of severe complications).
Children's immunity only builds up over time, partly through exposure to common infections. This may explain their increased risk.

  • Pregnant women, who should be at the front of the queue when a swine flu vaccine becomes available, as they are up to four times more likely to become seriously ill with the virus, research from the US suggests.
Their increased risk is likely due to changes in the body during pregnancy. These include changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and immunologic changes, while lung capacity decreases because as the uterus grows it moves the diaphragm upwards.

  • People on medication for asthma.
  • Severely obese people (ie those with a BMI of more than 40).

What should I do if I get sick? ll decide if

If you get sick with a flu-like illness as described above, contact your doctor/family doctor by telephone. Then you need a treatment.

  • Stay at home for seven days to avoid spreading infection to others.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing your nose.
  • Dispose of used tissues in the nearest waste bin.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Take simple anti-fever medication such as paracetamol or aspirin (aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age) and drink plenty of fluids.
Ensure that all household surfaces that are touched by hands are kept clean, especially bedside tables, surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens and children's toys. These should be wiped regularly with a household disinfectant.

The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours, and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

How easily does this flu spread?

It appears that after a person becomes infected, it takes less than two days for symptoms to start and this is when people are most infectious. Influenza spreads quickly in closed communities such as schools or residential homes.

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