The H1N1 virus (swine influenza) is a novel infection that has not earlier been known in North America. It has recently, however, infected a number of people in the United States and Mexico. Swine flu is actually a respiratory virus of pigs which was first identified in 1918 and although historic diffusion to human beings has been sporadic, the infection rate in humans is intensifying at present (Barnes, 2008).
The H1N1 virus, just like seasonal influenza, is simply spread by the minute drops in a sneeze or cough. The person infected may cough into an empty space but it will leave microorganisms (germs) on the place that can easily be picked by the other person by touching that place.
The major symptoms of swine influenza are reported to include chills, dyspnea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia, and fatigue. The chances of having Conjunctivitis is uncommon, but has been reported in some cases. Other symptoms include mild illness of respiratory track like nasal blocking and rhino rhea without temperature. In very rare cases sporadic severe diseases like pneumonia and respiratory failure also has been reported. Approximately thirty to fifty percent of the severe and deadly swine flu infections have been among young and middle-aged people who were previously in good physical shape (Barnes, 2008).
History of Swine flu
The Influenza outbreak of 1918, also remembered as the “Spanish” flu strain, and graded as an epidemic, is believed to have infected more than thirty percent of the total population of the world and became the source of as many as fifty million fatalities (Barnes, 2008). The death figure, according to the United States Center for Disease Control, could have been almost twice that since a number of people departed their life in that era were not actually diagnosed, nor were any samples of blood taken for testing and identification of the infection in the laboratory.
The rising rate of the swine flu infection rate has forced WHO to raise the level of the swine flu alert to its extreme alert level of Phase six from Phase five. The WHO, by moving up to its maximum alert level is signifying the fact that a worldwide epidemic might be under way. The severity of the virus, at this initial stage however, can be described internationally as being moderate.
Steps taken to control the epidemic
The Government, in order to control the spread of the endemic, has extended the authority of health officials and representatives to force the infected people and those who have been in a very close contact with somebody who has swine flu infection to be quarantined at home. This also includes forced barring of students and teachers from educational institutes.
This authority, however, has not considered necessary to be used since everyone who has been requested to segregate themselves has done so willingly and voluntarily.
Tony Ryall, the Health Minister has lately announced that The H1N1 virus –swine flu has been added to the health policies covering diseases that are notifiable and transmittable. The health ministry has informed the educational institutes to be ready for unexpected closures that could last more than a few weeks, and to have discussions with parents about distant learning.
Barnes, Ethne (2008); Diseases and Human Evolution; Published by UNM Press,
Science Daily (Apr. 28, 2009); Swine Flu Outbreak Continues To Grow, As Worldwide Pandemic Alert Level Raised To Phase 6 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090428222627.html