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  • Gazala Hitawala

Swine flu (H1N1) – The basics you should know

How Do You Catch It?

When infected people cough or sneeze, they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air. You can get infected if you come in contact with these drops or touch a surface (like a doorknob) where the drops landed. The virus stays active in the atmosphere for around 2 – 8 hours.

Swine Flu Symptoms

The symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu: cough, fever, runny nose, bodyache, headache, sore throat, chills, fatigue. It can further lead to serious problems like pneumonia and other lung infections which can be detrimental.

How Do You Know Whether You Are Infected?

If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms or shortness of breath, you should get yourself tested. Only test reports can confirm the presence or absence of the infection. The people at high risk are: – Pregnant females – People of ages under 5 years or over 65 years – Immune deficient individuals (eg. HIV) – People having chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney disorders etc. – People who stay in proximity of an infected patient

How Can You Prevent An Infection?

The most reliable method is to get vaccinated every year. Since the virus shows polymorphism i.e. the virus has the ability to change its genetic composition which renders the previous vaccine ineffective, it needs to be taken every time the virus reappears. Other than that, the measures you can add to prevent it are the following: – Wash your hands frequently, making sure you completely clean the finger tips, thumbs, wrists and spaces between the fingers. – Always keep an alcohol based sanitizer with you. – Avoid crowded places. – Consult a doctor if there is a reported case of swine flu in your locality. – Take a proper diet to keep your immunity strong. The infection is not transmitted by eating pork or bacon. The name ‘swine’ which literally means pig is misleading. It is so named because in the past, people who had it had contact with pigs but this is not relatable anymore

While swine flu isn’t as scary as it seemed a few years ago, it’s still important to protect yourself from it. A little awareness and spread of knowledge can help us prevent it among the masses.


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