Here’s how you can manage Swine flu in Bengaluru

Swine Flu has resulted in the death of 11 persons in Bengaluru Urban district, as on February 23rd, 2015, according to State Health Department reports. The Department also puts the total number of disease-affected in the district at 207 and critically ill patients at 8. An CNN-IBN report stated that the total death toll in India has crossed 800 since mid-December 2014.

In this backdrop, here are some commonly asked questions about Swine Flu and the answers.

What are the common symptoms of H1N1?

Clinical symptoms of swine influenza include fever and upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, running nose and sore throat. Headache, body ache, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting too are observed. This season, several H1N1 cases have been reported where the patients did not suffer from fever, but had other common symptoms.

How do cold, seasonal flu and H1N1 differ from each other?

Cold

Seasonal flu

H1N1

Fever is rare

Fever is common

Fever is present in 80 percent of cases

Mucus producing cough is often present

Dry and hacking cough is often present

Dry and hacking cough is usually present

Slight body aches and pains can be present

Moderate body aches are common

Severe aches and pains are common

Stuffy nose is common

Runny nose is common

Runny nose is not common

Chills are not common

Chills are mild to moderate

60 percent of people experience chills

Sneezing is common

Sneezing is common

Sneezing is not common

Headache is not common

Headache is fairly common

Headache is common

Sore throat is common

Sore throat is common

Sore throat is not common

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate

Chest discomfort is moderate

Chest discomfort is severe

 

How is the disease transmitted?

Swine flu spreads just as seasonal flu does. It is transmitted by droplet infection and fomites (inanimate objects that are capable of transmitting infectious organisms), from person to person through sneezing or coughing. Sometimes people may get infected by touching something with the virus on it, like door knobs and soaps, and then touching their nose or mouth.

What are the precautions that should be taken by those affected to avoid transmission?

The best way to avoid transmission of the disease is for the person with H1N1 to stop moving in public places and stay isolated at home until he/she is cured of the infection. In addition, the person should:

  • always carry tissues, cover the mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.
  • dispose of the used tissues responsibly where no one gets access to it.
  • ensure the used cloth are cleaned and sanitised in right way, without affecting anyone.
  • wash hands with soap or sanitiser regularly.
  • avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
  • avoid spitting in public
  • get plenty of sleep, stay well-hydrated and eat nutritious food.
  • do not take medicines without consulting a physician

What precautions can one take to protect themselves?

Healthy persons can avoid crowded places and stay more than an arm’s length from persons afflicted with flu. In addition,

  • They can cover their mouth and nose through masks or handkerchiefs.
  • One should wash hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Avoid contact with infected persons as much as possible
  • Don’t use the cloth or handkerchief or tissue papers used by the flu-affected.
  • Avoid shaking hands or hugging persons with influenza
  • Do not take medicines without consulting a physician

What should you do if you think you have H1N1 symptoms?

Visit your family doctor or a general physician immediately. If he/she insists, visit the nearest H1N1 screening/testing centre and undergo the H1N1 test. If the test is found positive, then you can undergo treatment.

It is extremely important that diagnosis and subsequent treatment is not delayed, especially if you fall under one of the following high-risk categories—if you are pregnant, if you are taking steroids, if you have an underlying illness like cancer or immunodeficiency. Children and the elderly are extremely susceptible too. For these categories, the chances of complications become significantly higher if the treatment is delayed.

How many categories does Swine Flu have?

There are three categories of the disease – A, B and C.

Category A – Mild fever, cough, sore throat, with or without body ache. Treatment – No Tamiflu is required, symptomatic treatment, no testing required, home isolation.

Category B – Symptoms of category A, High grade fever, severe sore throat. Treatment – Home isolation, administer Tamiflu.

Category C – Symptoms of categories A and B, followed by breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, low BP, discolouration of nails etc. Treatment – Immediate testing, hospitalisation and treatment.

Where are the screening/testing centres and diagnostic labs in Bengaluru?

  • Nimhans, Near Dairy Circle, Hosur Road, Bengaluru  (080 26995530/ 26995128)
  • Air Force Command Hospital, Old Airport Road, Domlur village (080 25369030) (only for military personnel and their families)
  • Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences, 258/A, Bommasandra Industrial Area, Anekal taluk, Bengaluru (080 71222222)
  • Manipal Hospital, 98, HAL Airport Road, Bengaluru (080 25023344/ 25024444)

What is the prescribed fee for laboratory test?

The State government has set an upper limit of Rs 2,500 as laboratory fee, and has decreed that hospitals screening patients should not charge above the maximum limit. NIMHANS is conducting the lab tests free of cost.

Do hospitals conduct swine flue test on any out-patient who comes asking for it?

Hospitals will conduct the test if the treating doctor of a patient sends the throat swab sample for testing or if a patient reports respiratory problem. Test is not done on general patients. 

How long does it take to obtain the laboratory report?

If the hospital is located close by, you should get it within six hours of the test.

Though vaccination against H1N1 influenza virus is not compulsory, those with chronic illnesses are advised to take it. Pic Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

Which are the vaccines available to prevent H1N1?

Bengaluru Urban District Health Officer Rajani says that since the strain of Swine Flu differs every season, the vaccination for this season’s virus is yet to be released. Research on the new vaccination has begun in Pune. Until then people can be immunised with the vaccine that is meant for common influenza. Vaccigrip and Flushot are some of the major influenza vaccine brands available.

However, it is not mandatory to be vaccinated. It is typically used on those who are under observation in the ICU, or those who have chronic illness and vulnerable. It normally takes four weeks for the body to react to the vaccine, and even then there are chances of a person getting influenza, before the body can react to the vaccine.

Is there shortage of vaccines in hospitals?

Yes, there is a shortage of vaccines mainly because of the sudden demand for the vaccine, with people using it randomly. The Drug Controller at Delhi has directed hospitals treating critically ill patients to administer the vaccine only to those in immediate need.

Which drugs help in treating Swine Flu?

Oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu, is commonly used for treating influenza B and C patients. However, it must be taken only under a doctor’s prescription. The dosage is given based on the intensity of the disease.

The government hospitals in Bengaluru Urban district where Tamiflu is available, are listed in the Health and Family Welfare Department website. The list of medical shops and hospitals in Bengaluru with the drugs are also available on the website.

How does the N 95 mask help?

The N 95 mask is used by doctors, health care workers and patients. The public can use any mask that is available at drugstores.

Government helpline numbers for H1N1

In case of emergency, one can contact the helpline on 080 26676143 or 080 22975684. The general health care helpline is 104.

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Akshatha M
About Akshatha M 218 Articles
Akshatha M is a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters. She tweets at @akshata1.

2 Comments

  1. When the vaccine becomes available it needs to be made available at a subsidised rate for mass immunization for all who wish to have it. The cost of treatment is high and even lab tests are expensive, and people have died so vaccination is needed.

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