Government Issues Alert For Outbreak Of Swine Influenza
A string of deaths caused by swine flu in the United States and Mexico has triggered the Indonesian Health Ministry to warn that immediate preventive measures must be taken. The Ministryâ€™s Disease Control Director General Tjandra Yoga Aditama said on Sunday 26 April that it would gather all scientific-related data on the virus, coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), with health medical officers in all of the countryâ€™s ports, with health research agencies and cooperate with the Agriculture and Foreign Ministries. Tjandra said that Port Health Offices (KPPs) were on alert and that letters had been circulated to KPPs nationwide. However, Tjandra said, the government has yet to issue a warning or travel ban for Indonesians from visiting swine flu-attacked countries. The government has tightened its control of the possible movement of the people at all ports and airports by using thermal scanners to screen passengers.
Swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death. Swine flu, 2009, has killed 86 people and affected possibly 1400 others in Mexico since April 13. There are 20 confirmed cases in five US states and suspected cases in Canada and France, and 10 people have tested positive for influenza A in New Zealand. (Sources: CDC | The Guardian | news.com | Antara | Okezone | The Jakarta Post)
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally. H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily it spreads between people.
The symptoms are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Swine influenza is thought to be spread in the same way that seasonal flu spreads; namely from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food, from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. People are advised to wash their hands, stay in good general health, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in the body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
There is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu but there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put used tissues in the waste basket. Cover your mouth if you do not have a tissue and clean your hands every time you cough or sneeze.
Washing your hands often will help protect you. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. The CDC recommends that when you wash your hands - with soap and warm water - that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
Symptoms include fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea. If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care. In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- 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
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting