All you need to know about Swine Flu

by BabyYumYum
It’s that time of year when practically everyone you know is laid up with some kind of flu, just recovering from it, or desperately trying not to catch it. BabyYumYum breaks gives you the lowdown on Swine Flu.
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It’s that time of year when practically everyone you know is laid up with some kind of flu, just recovering from it, or desperately trying not to catch it. BabyYumYum breaks gives you the lowdown on Swine Flu.

What exactly is Swine Flu? 

Swine flu, caused by the H1N1 virus, is a severe respiratory infection affecting the cells lining the nose, throat, and lungs. This type of influenza A virus caused significant concern during the 2009-2010 flu season. It was initially associated with direct contact with pigs, but a new strain emerged that spread among humans without pig exposure. Symptoms typically appear within 1-3 days after exposure to the virus.

BYY expert, Paediatrician Dr Maraschin, weighs in, “Swine Flu is not the “common cold”. It is far more debilitating and children present with severe symptoms. I prefer the term Influenza A since the term “Swine flu”, generates unnecessary fear.”

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Symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting

How is Swine Flu transmitted?

Like seasonal flu, swine flu spreads through respiratory droplets when infected individuals cough or sneeze. It can also survive on surfaces. Therefore, it is super important to wash your hands properly with a soap like Lifebuoy. 

How is it diagnosed?

Please visit your doctor to determine if you need to do a test. Lab tests are necessary to differentiate swine flu from regular flu. Rapid tests may not always provide accurate results.

It may not be necessary to do this test unless you are not getting better, have developed severe illness that requires hospitalisation, a secondary infection, have comorbidities, or are immunocompromised.

Swine flu, caused by the H1N1 virus, is a severe respiratory infection affecting the cells lining the nose, throat, and lungs.

What is the treatment for Swine Flu?

  • Antiviral medications (such as Oseltamivir and Zanamivir) can help manage symptoms.
  • Rest is crucial for the body to recover (stay home from work even if you don’t feel sick enough to stay in bed as it is highly contagious and you want to avoid infecting other people)
  • Supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc, NAC, Olive Leaf and Vitamin D (to name a few) can be helpful in boosting the immune system and lessening the severity and duration of the illness.

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How can I prevent getting Swine Flu?

  • Proper handwashing with a soap like Lifebuoy is recommended.
  • Vaccination — Swine Flu is included in seasonal influenza vaccines. Dr Maraschin says, “The flu vaccine is a good preventative measure and can be given from 6 months of age. Pregnant ladies can be given the flu vaccine in the last trimester to protect her and the newborn child from Influenza A (Swine Flu).” 
  • Make sure to get adequate deep, quality sleep of 8 to 8.5 hours per night
  • Avoid smoking
  • Develop and maintain a healthy immune system by eating optimally by including nutritious foods including fruit, vegetable, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Avoid processed and pre-packaged food, fast food and sugar.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Manage your stress levels to keep your immune system strong
  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

What are the risk factors for infection? 

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Respiratory illnesses (e.g., asthma, COPD)
  • Age (children under 5 and adults over 65)
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, heart disease)

What are the potential complications?

Untreated Swine Flu can lead to:

  • Worsening of chronic diseases
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Confusion and seizures

Swine Flu in South Africa

  • In 2009, H1N1 (swine flu) spread globally. Since then, cases have decreased, but it remains important to protect against it.
  • South Africa reported its first case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in commercial chickens in 2017 (H5N8 subtype). Recently, HPAI H5N2 was detected in chickens in KwaZulu-Natal Province in 2022.
  • Avian influenza (bird flu) is also monitored, with both low pathogenic and highly pathogenic strains affecting poultry and wild birds. Surveillance efforts continue to detect any incursion of avian influenza23.

Remember that when it comes to Swine Flu, early detection and proper care are crucial. If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical care promptly. All flu viruses require vigilance. If you have concerns, consult a healthcare professional.

Have fun learning about hygiene with your kids by playing the Hygiene Heroes game. Register here first!

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