Swine flu, or H1N1, is caused by the influenza A virus and is contagious as it is spread through droplets.

Kerala health officials urge caution against swine flu after floods
Health Health Monday, August 19, 2019 - 15:54

As the flood waters recede and the rains abate for now, health officials in Kerala have urged residents to be cautious against swine flu, which is caused by the influenza A virus. Authorities worry that cases which were sporadically seen prior to the heavy rains and floods in the state, may aggravate now that the weather has considerably improved and with several people still in relief camps.

“This is not to alarm people, but just general information. People should keep an eye out for any signs of swine flu in themselves and their families so that we can tackle any potential cases before any spread occurs,” states one official from the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) in Kerala.

Swine flu, also called H1N1, is caused by the influenza A virus. As pigs were found to be the primary host initially, it was dubbed ‘swine flu,’ however it can be transmitted from an infected individual to a healthy one through droplets. In 2009, a worldwide outbreak of the flu led to a pandemic. It is seasonally seen during peak rainfalls. There is a vaccine available against the flu which is routinely offered to healthcare professionals as they have a high risk of coming in contact with an infected individual.

The most common symptoms of swine flu are high fever, cough, cold, fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Chills and muscle pain (known as myalgia) as well as easy fatigability may also be seen. A throat swab and culture is the test undertaken to determine whether someone has contracted it.

Precautions to take

The most important thing to do is to ensure that basic hygiene practices are being followed, including frequent and thorough handwashing. In addition, it has been advised that individuals who may come into contact with an infected individual (namely camp volunteers and workers as well as those residing in relief camps) wear masks to protect against the flu.

Authorities had earlier cautioned against several other diseases, namely those which were waterborne, following the floods and rains. These included leptospirosis, acute gastroenteritis and even mosquito borne ailments such as dengue and chikungunya. An influx of dengue is expected to be seen in the weeks following the floods. Officials have asked people to take precautionary measures.

Also read: Health officials in Kerala, K’taka advise caution against diseases seen after floods

Doctors also had noted that there was an increasing number of individuals presenting with superficial (skin) fungal infections at the relief camps. They stated that this might be the result of prolonged exposure to flood waters which put many in contact with pathogens. While fungal infections are commonly seen in instances when an individual’s immunity is compromised, exposure to contaminated flood waters has led to more people developing such infections. Signs of a fungal infection include itching, scaling or flaking between the toes or fingers. It is treated with antifungal ointments, creams and tablets.

Also read: Doctors caution against fungal infections at relief camps post Kerala floods

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