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SWINE FLU

What is swine flu?

The swine flu or H1N1 flu virus is a variant on the flu virus, and infects the nose, throat and lungs causing fever, cough, sore throat, running nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Any sudden high fever with body ache is a pointer towards viral fever- commonly known in medical parlance as “flu”. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhoea. Bronchitis, sinus and ear infections may occur as flu-relaed complications. While the disease is very contagious, fatalities are very rare.

How serious is the flu?

H1N1 is just one of the variations of the flu. Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. It can be more dangerous for young children and patients of any age who have certain long term health conditions, including asthma, heart kidney, liver, disease, diabetes and patients whose immune system is weakened. Young children, the elderly and pregnant women are a particularly vulnerable group.

How does the flu spread?

Flu viruses spread mainly through droplets created when people with the flu cough, or sneeze. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?

People with the flu may be able to infect others by shedding virus from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after, though in some case it may be longer, hence once viral fever is diagnosed 7 days rest is recommended.

How do I protect my child against the flu?

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to keep the sick person separate from others in the household, if possible.
  • Clean surfaces like bedside tables, in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys by wiping them a household disinfectant.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it in the trash after use.
  • Avoid going to a crowded place like the movie theatre
  • Instruct your child to keep a distance of at least 3 ft from a child or an adult who is having a bout of sneezing and visibly ill
  • Make sure your child washes hands often, and limit their exposure to sick children. Every time they come home from outside, they should wash their hands with copious soap lather – in fact, this is a good habit to be followed all throughout and not only during flu season!

    In addition, taking a flu vaccine is highly recommended, for yourself, your child, and those that may be in regular contact with your child (e.g. driver or ayah). This year’s flu vaccine also includes the H1N1 strain, and provides protection against that as well as other strains of the flu.

    Do contact your doctor to know specific details of taking the vaccination

    If your child is already down with fever and cold, then it is not an appropriate time to take vaccination and vaccination can be done later. Otherwise the Flu vaccine is absolutely safe.

    Is there a medicine to treat the flu?

    Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness and may prevent complications, like pneumonia. These drugs work best when started during the first 2 days of illness, and can be given to children and pregnant women.

    What can I do if my child gets sick?

    Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child’s illness. H1N1 is still very rare, and in most cases you child will have a regular strain of the flu. Even in the case of H1N1, there is no reason to worry unduly, but you should follow-up with your paediatrician.

    A diagnostic test can be administered that confirms or rules out H1N1, and your paediatrician may make a clinical diagnosis as well.

    Take adequate medical advice and precautions, as you would with the flu. Ensure your child has plenty of rest at home, has a nourishing diet and drinks plenty of fluids.

    What if my child seems very sick?

    Take your child to a doctor right away if they have any of the warning signs below:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or grey skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids (not making as much urine as they normally do)
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

  • When can my child go back to school after having the flu?

    Keep your child home from school or day care for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. (A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher).

    DENGUE FEVER

    What is dengue?

    Dengue fever is caused by a flavivirus, transferred through a bite of female Aedesaegypti mosquito. This mosquito is active during the daytime and most active during the two hours after sunrise and a few hours before sunset.

    Is dengue contagious? How can I get it?

    The virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. Patients who are already infected with the dengue virus can transmit the infection (for 4–5 days, and up to a maximum of 12 days) via these Aedes mosquitoes after their first symptoms appear.

    How do I know if my child has dengue?

    We have listed for you some of the common symptoms associated with dengue. If you notice some or many of these in your child, please contact us immediately –

  • Sudden onset of fever (in the range 39-40°C or 103-105°F) for up to a week
  • Severe headache Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Pain in the back, especially in older children, above 10 years
  • A rash may appear about the same time that the fever subsides
  • Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment. Warning signs occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms in conjunction with a decrease in temperature (below 38°C/ 100°F) and include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Rapid breathing, Bleeding gums
  • Fatigue, restlessness
  • The next 24–48 hours of the critical stage can be lethal, and proper medical care is needed to avoid complications and risk of death.

    What should you do as a parent?

    Please visit your doctor or call us immediately if you notice any of the above described symptoms. Complete rest and consuming a lot of fluids and staying hydrated is most important. The child’s condition needs to be constantly monitored. You can administer paracetamol in the right dosage after checking with your doctor, to manage fever and pain.

    When can my child go back to school?

    The child gets well usually within one to two weeks and could go back to school after he/she has gained back his/her appetite and stamina. It is important that he/she gets enough rest, and is able to regain enough strength before coming back to school.

    What can I do to protect my family from dengue?

    Unfortunately, there is no vaccination currently available for dengue fever. Some of the things you can do to limit exposure to mosquitoes is to use effective repellent sprays, avoid standing water in pots/plants at home, and be especially cautious in the early morning right after sunrise, and in the evening, before sunset.

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