Every year some sort of Virus comes up. Obviously, 2009 should not be an exception. Hence, we have a scary virus called Swine Flu (H1N1). While there is a great deal of chaos about what it is and how deadly it is, the Directorate General of Health Services Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India, has tried to answer some of your questions by writing “Clinical management Protocol and Infection Control Guidelines”. In nutshell
- Important clinical features of swine influenza A (H1N1) include fever, and upper respiratory symptoms such as cough and sore throat. Head ache, body ache, fatigue diarrhea and vomiting have also been observed. Oops … this is what happens during some other viral fever as well???
- Well, there is a way to confirm that through haematological, biochemical, radiological and microbiological tests. So, the news that you see in TV are probably correct. Confirmation of influenza A(H1N1) swine origin infection is through:
- Real time Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) or
- Isolation of the virus in culture or
- Four-fold rise in virus specific neutralizing antibodies
- So, what does it mean for the hospitals and health care organizations?
- Ensure that the personnel managing the health remains healthy.
- Reinforce standard infection control precautions strictly
- Dispose waste properly by placing it in sealed impermeable bags labeled as Bio- Hazard
- Use transportable tools to perform tests on the patient (instead of moving him around in the hospital)
- Use visual signs and other more effective communication mechanism to educate other inpatient/outpatient to avoid going near the area where infected patients are being treated
- Don’t rush in discharging the infected patients — even after he/she is cured
- Suggest/Prescribe all the close contacts of infected to take preventive care
- Teach the infected patients and spread the message in the society about Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette. Yes, the things like covering the nose/mouth with a clean handkerchief/ tissue paper when coughing or sneezing can at least decrease the speed at which this infection can increase.
While hospitals have their responsibility increased, as a responsible citizen, we must ensure that we co-operate with them and ensure that our surrounding is neat and clean. I hear that people waiting for swine-flu test on airport jump the queue — THAT IS A CRIME.