Pregnancy and Swine Flu : FAQs
(1) What is Swine Flu?
Swine Flu is a very contagious respiratory disease. It usually affects animals, but the recent outbreak, is a strain called H1N1, which can also affect people. The concern about this outbreak of swine flu is that it is now spreading from person to person. The World Health Organisation has raised a worldwide pandemic alert. It has had maximum casualties in Mexico, USA, UK and is spreading worldwide. Many cases are being diagnosed in Pune, Mumbai and other cities in India.
(2) How does swine flu present / what are the signs and symptoms?
Swine flu can affect different people differently, depending on their immune status and general health. Some people who catch the virus only have mild symptoms. But others may develop complications and in extreme cases swine flu can cause death if treatment is delayed.
The symptoms of swine flu are just like the regular flu symptoms:
fever, tiredness, cough, headache. muscles, joint pain,acute abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting
(3) Is there any treatment for swine flu?
Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu will relieve the symptoms and help you to recover faster. They will also reduce the likelihood of you developing complications. However, it is imperative that the HINI testing is done before treatment is commenced. If you notice symptoms, you should immediately consult your doctor.
(4) Is there a vaccine for swine flu?
There is no vaccine currently available. Researchers are working on an effective vaccine for swine flu but it will take several months to produce. The vaccine for other forms of flu will not protect you against swine flu.
(5) I’m pregnant. Am I more at risk of catching swine flu?
If you’re pregnant, your immunity to infection is slightly lowered to stop your body rejecting your unborn baby. So it’s particularly important that you take sensible precautions to protect yourself.
In general, this means – avoid traveling unnecessarily, avoid crowded and enclosed spaces like malls, cinemas, etc where you may catch the infection.
It is important that pregnant women with flu-like symptoms contact their doctor as soon as possible.
(6) What should I do if I or somebody in my family shows symptoms of swine flu?
Call your doctor immediately and explain what’s happening. Tell her that you are pregnant and whether you or anyone else in your house has any other health problems. Swine flu can be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because the virus is very contagious, your doctor will tell you whether you should go to the surgery or if you should stay at home.
You may be asked to go to hospital to have a sample taken from your respiratory system. This will be analysed in order to find out if your symptoms are caused by swine flu.
(7) How and where do I get tested for the swine flu strain (H1N1)?
The testing is done by throat and nasal swabs. Some blood tests may also be needed. You can go to any hospital and get the checks done, if you are suspecting swine flu.
(8) What precautions can I take to avoid swine flu?
Just as with regular flu, there are some things you can do to avoid infection and minimise the spread of the disease:
Avoid contact with anyone who appears to have flu-like symptoms.
If a family member has swine flu, wearing a mask will reduce your chances of catching the illness.
Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough and sneeze and throw it away after using it.
If you don’t have a tissue to hand, cover your mouth with the inner part of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
This will avoid spreading the infection to your hand and will minimise spreading the disease.
After coughing and sneezing, wash your hands with warm water and soap. Rub both sides of your soapy hands for at least for 15 seconds and rinse with lots of water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitisers.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth because the germs spread very quickly.
Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods – a balance of these will give you minerals and antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which help to fight infections.