Ten years ago, the H1N1 virus was recognised by scientists after they found a virus which was a combination of viruses found in pigs, birds and human beings. Soon after it was discovered, scientists found that the H1N1 virus was affecting people’s respiratory system. This infection was given the name ‘swine flu’.
The H1N1 virus is extremely contagious, spreading from one individual to another. The symptoms are similar to the typical flu, which includes fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue and body chills.
What causes the H1N1 virus?
Although the name says ‘swine flu’, it does not affect an individual when they have pork. The term swine flu stems from the fact that it is an influenza in pigs which has left its traces on human beings now. Occasionally, influenza from pigs could get transferred to human beings and spread from people to people.
Influenza viruses attack the cells that line one’s nose, lungs, and throat. This virus enters the body when it inhales contaminated droplets or allows the entry of the virus through the eyes, nose and mouth.
H1N1 virus symptoms:
- Body aches
- High fever
- Body chills
- Difficulty breathing, accompanied by stuffy nose/runny nose and watery eyes
- Vomiting or nausea
How dangerous is the H1N1 virus?
Most farmers who breed pigs or veterinarians who have close contact with pigs tend to be susceptible to the H1N1 virus. Moreover, people who tend to travel to places that have many cases of H1N1 virus can get affected and spread it around.
While H1N1 virus symptoms would initially seem similar to the regular flu, it can be life-threatening. It can exacerbate existing conditions, especially heart diseases and asthma. It can lead to pneumonia, respiratory system failures, and other various neurological conditions such as seizures.
With death tolls rising and vaccinations increasing, it is very important to prevent H1N1 virus from spreading and turning it into an epidemic again. It should be noted that upon noticing any swine flu signs and symptoms, you must immediately go to the doctor. If symptoms such as body aches, fever and cough persist for a long time, then get yourself tested immediately. Understand the kind of fever you are suffering from and accordingly take action.
Who does H1N1 affect?
While the H1N1 virus can affect anybody, it is more likely to affect the following groups:
- Pregnant women
- Small children, especially who are below the age of 7
- People with immunity-related conditions such as AIDS or any other autoimmune diseases
- Older adults who are beyond the age of 60, whose immunity has weakened with age
- People with diabetes, heart diseases or asthma
The best practices for H1N1 prevention:
- When you show any H1N1 signs and symptoms, stay at home so that it does not spread to others. Schedule an appointment with the doctor immediately.
- Maintain a good level of hygiene at all times. Frequently wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer, even if it’s after doing something as banal as using the doorknob. Studies show that door handles have a lot of bacteria.
- Do not come in contact with people who are down with any sickness. Even if you do come in contact with them, do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose without cleaning your hands.
- When down with the flu, get a regular flu shot. Small children, pregnant women, older adults and people with immunity-related issues should get the H1N1 Influenza virus vaccine. While it does not cure any existing infections, it will, however, make the body immune to the virus in the future.
- It is flu season, and you are bound to find people falling ill too frequently. Avoid crowds and large social gatherings as the chances of spreading infections are a lot higher with such close proximity.
- With a running temperature, one often ends up being quite dehydrated. Keep yourself hydrated at all times.
- Take plenty of rest. Even when you feel slightly under the weather, understand that it would get worse if you continue with your regular schedule. If you are diagnosed with H1N1 virus, stay at home, drink a lot of water, take the medicines, and rest this one out completely.
This flu season, steer clear from any illnesses and follow the above H1N1 prevention points to maintain a healthy lifestyle to stay safe.