Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan has contracted swine flu and is now quarantined at home to prevent the spread of the disease. But not before his wife, Kiran Rao caught it from him.
The duo were scheduled to attend the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017 in Pune this Sunday - a programme organized by Rao's NGO, Paani Foundation - but cancelled their appearance due to the infection.
Instead, they showed up for a video conference call where they conveyed their regrets to the event-goers and announced they would not attend any public functions until they have been cured of the disease.
But this is not an isolated incidence of the dreaded H1N1. In reality this disease has been on the rise in India for quite some time now.
Swine Flu: An Epidemic Waiting To Happen
According to the national census by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there have been an estimated 8,648 cases of swine flu cases in India till 7th of May this year, with 345 recorded deaths in that number.
That is a 484% increase in the incidence of the disease in our country since 2016, and a 130% increase in the death rate!
In fact, it is estimated that 55% of all these cases were in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. And 50% of all swine-flu related deaths were recorded in Maharashtra.
So while Aamir and Kiran's contraction of this disease may be getting major media coverage right now, the reality is that swine flu is on the verge of becoming an epidemic of major proportions once again, and we need to gear up against it right now.
From Infection To Death: The Story Of H1N1
Swine flu (also called "pig influenza) is a human respiratory infection caused by the H1N1 strain of the Influenza A virus that was originally transmitted to humans by sick pigs. But the virus has mutated since then and is now known for its fast rate of transmission within the human race.
The main mode for this is through respiratory droplets in sneezes and coughs. But other ways of spreading include skin-to-skin contact, touching contaminated surfaces like bedsheets and food trays, and through exchange of saliva while kissing or sharing food and drinks.
Once an individual picks up the virus through one of these methods, the flu incubates in his body for 1-4 days before the first symptoms start to show. Symptoms like fever, sore throat, cough, running nose, chills, weakness and body ache.
In fact, severe infections are often accompanied by chest pain, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, and dizziness.
Regardless of the intensity of the symptoms, the individual is highly infectious during this stage and continues be a tool of viral-transmission for at least 7 more days, after which the disease starts to subside if the patient has received adequate treatment.
Death, while rare, usually occurs due to secondary bacterial infections of the lungs, which cause pneumonia.
Knowing all this, what can you do about it?
The Complete Guide To Protecting Yourself From Swine Flu
While the disease to death ratio is small in swine flu, it is always better to protect yourself than suffer through 10 days of infection. The following is a healthcare initiative for the same:-
Step 1: Stay Healthy
Like all respiratory infections, swine flu can be prevented by keeping up your immunity and staying healthy.
That includes eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, drinking lots of water, steering clear of sick individuals and making sure you keep your surrounding neat and clean.
Step 2: Get The Swine Flu Vaccine
At present there are 2 kinds of vaccines available against swine flu - a nasal spray and an injection. And while both aren't 100% effective against swine flu, the success rate is good enough to get a shot.
After all, it does improve your odds of safety.
Step 3: Get Tested If You Have Flu-like Symptoms
Common cold has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. And while your flu-like symptoms can be because of swine flu, there is a higher possibility that it is a simple case of cold.
That's why if you contract three or more symptoms of swine flu infection listed above, it is always better to get yourself tested by a doctor for a speedy diagnosis.
Remember: A fast diagnosis improves your odds of getting cured and staying alive.
Step 4: Don't Self-Medicate
While it may seem more convenient to take drugs suggested by the pharmacist, your parents or distant relatives, please do not take any medicines without a prescription from your doctor.
This is because self-medication allows antibiotic-resistant strains of the virus to develop, which makes it very difficult to keep the death rate low in this disease.
Step 5: Share The Information
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to diseases that can kill you. So if you have read this far, good for you! You have just armed yourself against a deadly disease.
But just knowing it is not enough.
Share this article with your friends and family and help us prevent swine flu from becoming a national nightmare.
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