H1N1 disease is also referred to as the swine flu. It is a new kind of influenza which has been causing illness in the society and was first detected in the year 2009 in the United States. It spreads from one individual to another just the way the regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. It is referred to as the swine flu because laboratory tests indicated that the genetic constitution of the virus was similar to the influenza viruses that are normally found in pigs (swine). The general symptoms of this disease include fatigue, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, chills, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and runny or stuffy nose. The specific symptoms found in the children includes troubles when breathing, bluish skin color, insufficient intake of fluids, lack of socialization, irritation on the body skin and fever which is accompanied by rashes.
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The agent cause of the H1N1 is the influenza A virus. This is a negative sense, single-stranded RNA which belongs to the orthomyxoviridae family. According to health officials, swine flu is contagious and its spread in the same way as the seasonal flu (coughing or sneezing). This is because every time a person infected with the swine flu coughs or sneezes, some tiny droplets containing this kind of virus are released into the air. Any person who comes into contact with these droplets is likely to get infected with this disease.
Some of the risk factors associated with H1N1 are age and medical conditions. This is because certain age groups and those with prevailing medical conditions are likely to have complications if they are infected with this disease. For example children aged below 5 years and especially those who are below two years are likely to develop flu related complications. People aged 65years and above are also at higher risks of experiencing severe complications from this illnesses compared to the young people. This is because of the fact that human defenses become weaker as a person ages. Another vulnerable group to this H1N1 flu related complication s is the pregnant women. This is because this disease is both dangerous for the mother and the unborn child for its severity can be fatal. The medical conditions which can be complicated by H1N1 influenza infection include people with asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart diseases (congestive heart failure, congenital, coronary artery disease), blood disorders (sick cell anemia), endocrine disorders (diabetes mellitus), kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders (mitochondrial and metabolic). Other medical conditions will include the people with a weakened immune system as a result of medication or diseases such as cancer, chronic steroids HIV and AIDS (Cdc.gov 2010).
People who experience severe or mild of the earlier mentioned characteristics should visit the public or private health facilities for treatment. There are several drugs which can be used in alleviating the H1N1 flu in people with severe illnesses or risk factors. This includes the antiviral drugs such as the Tami flu and Relenza. There are also monovalent H1N1 virus vaccines which were approved by the FDA in September 2009 (umm.edu 2009).
During May last year this disease was viewed as a pandemic by many countries and also by WHO. It is highly respected my many countries because of the effects which it can bring to a country’s population. Many governments perceive this disease as a threat because it is still increasing at an alarming rate as many new countries get infected too. Governments are however fighting the threat of this disease by testing the sample of ill persons and also by shifting the surveillance efforts to reporting and monitoring of trends.
H1N1 is a very dangerous disease which spreads very fast because its method of transmissions is very simple. I believe that it’s the duty of each individual to monitor the mentioned symptoms and then report to the health facilities so as to reduce the opportunistic infections which come with the disease. People should also go for vaccination so that they can reduce the effects of the disease. People who have the risk factors should also visit the health facilities so as to avoid the flu related complications. Countries should step up measures to curbing this surging numbers of cases resulting from the disease.
Cdc.gov. (2010). 2009 H1N1 Flu. Retrieved on 13th February 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/qa.htm
Umm.edu. (2009). H1N1 flu (swine flu) information. Retrieved on 13th February 2010, from http://www.umm.edu/news/swine_flu_qa.htm#9