The recent outbreak of H1N1 influenza epidemic which is better familiar as swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that causes regular outbreaks in pigs.
The human outbreak has created panic in the people due to some fatality. People are in a fix due to some reasons which include the disease is relatively new, healthcare setup is not completely equipped with adequate resources, medical professionals are not quite skilled handling the disease and so on.
When there was first outbreak of dengue haemorrhagic in Bangladesh, people were so worried similarly. But it is no longer a disease of panic.
To deal with the H1N1 influenza, we need keeping in mind several things. The best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing is to limit contact with other people as much as possible. Sick people should avoid work place and children should not go to schools. Concerned authority should be reluctant in this regard.
When coughing or sneezing, mouth and nose should be covered with tissue which should be discard immediately. If tissue is not available, hands are enough which must be washed afterwards. There is serious bad habit spitting and not covering mouth or nose while coughing or sneezing. Use of civic sense and simple courtesy can contribute a great deal here.
Most of the cases are self limiting and personal hygiene is of great value.
People with H1N1 influenza are potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic with a ceiling of up to seven days following illness onset. Kids, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
There is a dilemma about using the masks. Usually three types of masks are used — facemask, surgical mask and N95 mask. The N95 mask is effective in protection of H1N1 virus whereas surgical and facemask have almost no contribution for protection. But wearing facemask or surgical mask is of no harm. At least it protects others from spreading the disease. Sometimes, experts opt for double layered mask for resource poor settings.
Since the virus easily spread in crowded places, children are recommended to abstain from their schools where large outbreak occurs. Otherwise, only sick children are recommended to stay home to avoid spreading illness. Children also should not be brought to crowded places unnecessarily like shopping complexes, cinema halls etc.
Treatment is available in Bangladesh now and soon medical professionals will be used to hand H1N1 cases. Suspected cases should stay home and take home management. In case of developing warning signs or complications, individuals should seek emergency medical care in hospitals.
Antiviral drugs (Oseltamivir), which are available in the market can be stored at home for safety purpose, but it should not be readily taken without any clinical judgement or without prescription of physician, as it may develop resistance.
Fatality occurs due to misdiagnosis of the disease and accompanying other serious/chronic medical conditions — not as the disease is virulent too much. Early intervention with medication can cure the disease as usually.