Swine flu has claimed its first victim in Mumbai of this year. According to a report in DNA, 26-year-old Danishta Khan, who also suffered from diabetes, succumbed to swine flu in the city’s KEM Hospital early July while receiving treatment in the ICU. The contagious swine flu virus is known to very active in the monsoon season and claims a number of lives each year. H1N1 has three categories – A, B and C. While A and B categories need home care, category C requires immediate hospitalization and medical intervention as its symptoms and outcomes are extremely severe and could result in death. Dr D S Chaddha, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, shares important inputs about protection and prevention against the H1N1 virus.

Symptoms of Swine Flu (H1N1): fever, cough, sore throat, malaise and headache, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In Children: young children are less likely to have the usual influenza signs and symptoms such as fever and cough.
In Infants: the symptoms may be fever and lethargy. They may not have a cough or other respiratory symptoms.
Symptoms of severe disease in infants and young children may include apnea, tachypnea, dyspnea, cyanosis, dehydration, altered mental status and extreme irritability.

High-risk groups for swine flu: Children younger than five years old, adults who are 65 years and above, patients who have a chronic pulmonary condition (including asthma, patients who have a cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), neurologic, neuromuscular or metabolic disorder (including diabetes mellitus), patients who are on immune suppressants, HIV patients, pregnant women, obese adults and even residents of nursing homes and other chronic – care facilities.

Home care treatment for Influenza A and B (H1N1)

· Check with the health care provider about any special care that might be needed if the patient is pregnant or has a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema.

· Check with the health care provider about whether the patient should take antiviral medications.

· Keep the patient away from other people as much as possible. They should not be going to school or work.

· One should watch out for the primary influenza symptoms: high temperature, runny nose, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain.

· The patient should stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides

· To prevent dehydration the patient should rest and drink plenty of fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages.

· Coughs and sneezes should be covered. Hands should be cleaned using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

· A face mask should be worn at all times to prevent the virus from spreading to near and dear ones.