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Thursday, April 30, 2009

How To Prevent Swine Flu

If you have been following the news from across the world lately, you have probably heard the words ‘swine fever' or ‘swine flu' or ‘swine influenza' several times over the last few days.

As of last week, a high degree alert has been sounded by the World Health Organization

(WHO), which has escalated the threat level of this virus to that of a pandemic - in other words, the outbreak of swine flu is now prevalent across many parts of the world.

As you may know by now, swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease causing acute distress, usually caused by a variant of swine influenza ‘A' virus. Until now, this virus was localized among pigs, but it has begun to affect human beings, sometimes in a fatal manner across parts of the United States, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, China, Japan and some other parts of Eastern Asia.

Quite alarming, but swine flu is definitely preventable. Learning how to prevent swine flu from spreading among human beings and how to take precautions against the virus will be of help. Here are some steps to prevent swine flu:

If you are a healthy person, then -

  • Avoid contact with anyone that appears to be suffering from symptoms akin to common influenza or fever.
  • Avoid remaining in closed environments for long periods of time, or within closed groups of people, especially if any one or more of them appear to be ill, tired, fatigued, etc.
  • To the best extent possible, avoid traveling to any of the regions mentioned above that have already had an outbreak of swine flu. If you have recently returned from a trip to these regions or anywhere nearby, then get a general check-up done by your physician, including some tests done to rule out the possibility of the swine fever virus affecting you.
  • If you need to head into an area with a swine influenza outbreak, consider wearing a surgical face mask as you may have seen people wearing for the SARS or avian flu outbreaks.

It may be helpful to know that physicians and health authorities in the United States are recommending measured dosages of the anti-virals Oseltamivir or Zanamivir for the treatment of swine flu.

If you are in regular contact with pigs, or live in areas where the population of pigs is high, then watch your animals for sick pigs, separate them from the healthy ones, and report them to your local health authorities. On your own part, minimize contact with sick pigs.

In general, it is highly advisable to maintain the highest levels of hygiene and general health possible:

  • Eat fresh cut vegetables and fruits after washing them thoroughly, and only consume nutritious food.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap.
  • Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. But it is always good practice to ensure that meat is freshly procured, or if stored, it should be stored in frozen compartments.  In any case use it immediately -- cooking it well and at temperatures high enough to kill any virus -- for example, swine fever virus is killed if pork is cooked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit - of course, this does not mean you can eat contaminated pork, but cooking healthy meat at that temperature is advised.

If you suffer from any symptoms akin to common flu, including fever, then consult your physician immediately. As with any medical condition, prevention of swine flu is preferable to treatment.


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