This Year’s Influenza Virus, The Swine Flu

Influenza is a viral illness more intense than the common cold and is typically associated with headache, muscle aches, fatigue and fever. The Swine flu pandemic which originated from the H1N1 strain of virus had its origins in Mexico sometime at the beginning of 2009. It rapidly spread to other areas of the world after it was identified in April and was soon labeled a pandemic by the WHO. There have been previous, smaller outbreaks of Mexican or Swine flu as the illness has become commonly known and some individuals (aged 50+), who had faced it the last time around have shown some immunity in the current outbreak.
Although the flu does not severely affect most individuals who get it, people with asthma, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and those with depressed immune systems form the high risk group and are more likely to fall extremely ill. Children below 5 years of age, pregnant women and senior citizens above 65 also form part of this group.
Although the spread of swine flu has been very rapid, continuously heightened level of alertness to control the frequently recurring avian flu virus over the last several years had kept the world better prepared to tackle this particular epidemic. Transmission of the virus is between humans and there is no transmission when eating cooked pork products. Coughing, sneezing and touching the nose or mouth after coming in contact with contaminated surfaces causes the virus to spread, so covering the appropriate areas and washing hands frequently is likely to arrest this to some extent; facial masks have been seen to be of limited effect.
The symptoms may last up to a week, depending on how severely a person has been infected and include fever, sneezing, dry cough, body pain and headaches. Sore throats, fatigue, runny nose and chills have also been reported by some sufferers and a bit of diarrhoea as well as vomiting. Extra care must be taken if there is a relapse, especially involving bacterial pneumonia, as the effects are likely to be much worse the second time.
Regarding treatment, existing vaccines for treatment of seasonal flu do not have any effect on the H1N1 strain. Since most of the infections are mild, the usual precautions and treatment for those suffering from seasonal flu should suffice. Worldwide deaths have been only a very small percentage of those infected. New vaccines have been tested and it is thought that just one dose should do the trick, especially in less severely infected patients. However younger children may require up to 2 doses. Many of the developed countries are trying to work out a mass vaccination campaign among their population - similar to the one used to eradicate polio.
Homeopathy also offers specific treatments for influenza, though there may not be one yet identified specifically for swine flu. Commonly used formulations include Arsenicum Album, Belladonna, Bryonia, Ferrum phosphoricum, Gelsemium, etc. There is even one that a doctor formulates each year tailored to the current strain of influenza that will help protect you from contracting the virus and it also helps relieve symptoms if you do get the flu. Self treatment may not be appropriate in case of H1N1, the swine flu, and the advice of a physician should be taken to get the correct formulation and dosage.

Caring For Someone That Has the H1N1 Swine Flu

Fortunately, when most individuals become infected with the H1N1 swine flu they do not need to receive medical attention and are able to overcome the symptoms within approximately seven days, however, the H1N1 virus is extremely contagious and can be contracted when coming into close contact with another individual who has this virus one day before they are exhibiting any symptoms and up to seven days afterward. Most individuals will be able to recover from the H1N1 virus at home, however, if you are a caretaker for someone who has the flu or H1N1 virus, it is essential that you take precautionary measures to avoid becoming infected yourself or spreading this illness to others.
Preparing a Sick Room
If you are caring for someone in the home that has the H1N1 flu, if at all possible create a separate bedroom for them to use for the duration of their illness. This room should be stocked with plenty of disposable tissues as well as a trash container that is lined with a disposable trash bag and a lid. You should also ensure that you have a thermometer handy and ant-bacterial hand wipes or a hand rub that is alcohol-based. Anyone who has the flu should drink plenty of fluids in order to stay hydrated, therefore, be sure to have plenty of fluids available as well as squeeze bottle or cup with a straw and have either a cooler with drinks and ice or a pitcher with ice water within easy reach.
A humidifier should also be placed in the room to moisturize the air as this makes breathing easier for those experiencing respiratory problems with flu. In order to prevent the spread of germs to other areas of the house, face masks should be available for the individual who is sick to wear them when leaving the room or when around other individuals. Ensure that you have any over-the-counter or prescription medications close at hand and keep track of the dosages, but ensure that they are kept out of reach from young children.
Advice for the Caregiver
When you are caring for someone who has the H1N1 virus, it is essential that you avoid coming into direct contact with them as much as possible and especially avoid getting close to their face as this virus has the potential to spread even when just talking up close to another individual. If you are caring for a sick child that needs to be held, ensure that you place their chin so that it is positioned on your shoulder to avoid them accidentally coughing in your face. It is essential that you wash your hands thoroughly as frequently as possible and especially after coming into contact with the person who is sick including their laundry and tissues. You should ensure that you keep all of the hard surfaces in your home including doorknobs, toilets, sinks, counters, toys, telephones, and other items that have the potential to harbor germs clean and disinfected by using dish soap and warm water or other household cleaners that contain a disinfectant.

A Guide To Feline Aids and Related Pet Ailments

Cats and other domesticated felines face numerous threats to their health such as FeLV, earmites parasites and many more but none that is as fatal as FIV. FIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a contagious disease caused by a kind of retrovirus similar to the FeLV or Feline Leukemia Virus that belongs to the lentivrus category. Like the HIV which human contract, it destroys the feline's immune system making it susceptible to other forms of diseases.
Like any other virus existing, it is a microscopic non-living organism which only consists of either a DNA or RNA covered with some kind of protein coat. Unlike other regular cells, they can only replicate and multiply inside living cells, making it a virus factory. In addition, they do not breathe, process any nutrients and or excrete waste products. Once a cat becomes afflicted, it will easily contract other forms of infections such as bacterial, viral, fungal and even protozoan in origin.
The thing with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is that it is usually too late for the cat's owner to discover that the cat is ill. More often than not, visible symptoms only become apparent when the infection is already at its later stages. The infection usually starts with the virus being carried to the regional lymph node where it attaches itself as it gradually replicates in the white blood cells known as T lymphocyte. It will later spread to other lymph nodes throughout the body causing the cat to experience a few minor ailments such as fever, leukopenia, anemia which lasts for a couple of weeks. This is usually interpreted as a standard illness in a cat and may not be taken seriously.
After the cat recovers from the initial symptoms, it will appear healthy and fit and can remain so in several years. When the cat's immune system has almost been negated by the virus, signs of immunodeficiency will start to become visible and in this stage, the cat will display a few or all of the following; weight loss, poor fur complexion, anemia, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and many more.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is usually transmitted through a cat's saliva and the most common occurrence of this is through bite wounds. Wandering male cats are more prone to this since they tend to prey on other felines for territorial matters. This is diagnosed based on history, clinical results and blood examination known as Enzyme-Link Immunosorbent Assay or commonly referred to as ELISA. There are two possible results that the process will manifest; the first would be the false positive while the second is a false negative.
If the cat has been injected with an FIV vaccine then the ELISA result will display a positive test result. Kittens born from FIV infected mothers may have received antibodies. This may be transmitted through the milk that the kittens drink though this does not mean that the kittens are afflicted with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Conducting secondary tests after the first few tests is well advised.
Unfortunately, there is no known remedy for FIV as of the present. The most that one can do is provide constant support and care for the afflicted cat. Support could range from regular veterinary check ups, parasite maintenance, high-quality and proper diet, keeping the cat away from external pollution so as to prevent or lessen the chances of a cat acquiring a disease, vaccination against other diseases. The usage of high-calorie supplements and occasional blood transfusions may be a necessity during the later stages of the disease. Following these procedures and steps can ensure the cat a longer lifespan and will not require euthanasia anymore.
It can also be helpful in preventing the spread of the virus that the cat be quarantined and not allowed to roam in the neighboring area. Conducting tests on each cat that was used for breeding can also be potentially helpful. Though current information claims that there is a vaccine available to remedy the disease, it does not guarantee a reliable result and would still need further observation.
To sum it all up, prevention is still better than cure. By following the aforementioned advices and information, you can lessen the chances of your cat acquiring the disease and lead her to a healthy lifestyle.

The Flu and Flu Shot

Millions of people suffer from the flu every winter. The flu, or influenza, is caused by viruses, which are very small germs. Some viruses including the one that causes the flu are easily spread among people. The flu can present as a relatively minor illness in young,healthy people; but it can become a very serious illness in senior citizens,particularly those with a history of conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Flu symptoms generally last for one to two weeks, but the flu can become more serious than that. While your body is working to fight off the flu, you may be more susceptible to other infections such as pneumonia. Senior citizens are especially likely to face experience complications with the flu.
The flu is highly contagious and easily spreads from person to person, often through the air. It is possible foryou to spread the flu to someone else before you even feel symptoms, and you remain contagious for several days after you begin to feel ill. You may contract the flu if someone has the illness and sneezes or coughs near you. It is also possible to get the flu if you touch something that has the flu virus on it(like a doorknob or phone) and then touch your nose or mouth.
The virus can exist on surfaces for hours, so it is very important to wash your hands well when you know you have been in contact with someone who has the flu. Be sure to always wash your hands before eating and touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you can, try to stay away from someone you know is sick.
Distinguishing Between the Flu and a Cold
Although flu and colds have similar symptoms, they can be differentiated by a few traits. A cold is usually milder than the flu; but since the flu can cause serious problems, it is important to recognize the differences.
Normal symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, dry cough, aches and pains, headache, and fatigue. Some people with the flu may experience sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, or stomach problems, but those symptoms are not as common. The flu is a different virus from what some people call the "stomach flu," which mainly causes digestive problems.
Getting an annual flu shot, which contains the flu vaccine, can help you stay in good health. Many insurance plans will pay for the shot, which you can get at a doctor's office or the local health department. Many grocery stores and pharmacies also offer the flu shot during a certain time of year. Although the shot cannot guarantee health for everyone, getting the shot every year can decrease the likelihood of catching the flu or minimize symptoms if you do catch it.
It is recommended that senior citizens age 50 and older should get a flu shot once a year. Additionally, anyone who lives with or provides the elder care for a senior citizen should also get the flu shot each year.
The peak season for getting the flu,referred to as "flu season," is November through April. Since the effects of the shot begin to work two weeks after you receive the vaccine, you should aim to get the shot in October or early November. If you cannot get a flu shot before flu season begins, it is still a good idea to get the shot.
The flu virus changes often, each year it is a bit different from the previous year. The vaccine is changed each year to reflect the changes in the virus. This is one of the reasons to get vaccinated every year.
Most people do not experience side effects associated with getting the flu shot, and getting vaccinated is safer than contracting the flu. Some common reactions to the shot are soreness,redness, or swelling at the site of injection for up to two days after getting the shot. Some people experience a headache or low-grade fever for about a day after they get the shot. Getting the flu shot cannot give you the flu.
Since eggs are used to make the vaccine, if you are allergic to eggs, you may have a severe reaction to the shot and should not get vaccinated.
If you catch the flu, call your physician to ask about possible treatments that can help. Be sure to mention other medications you are taking such as drugs to fight cancer or other medicines that may weaken your body's immune system. Prescription drugs called antivirals are used to treat the flu. Taking antivirals within 48 hours of flu onset can decrease the amount of time you feel sick.
Check with your doctor as soon as you feel any flu-like symptoms. Also call your doctor if:

Your fever goes away and then returns - this could signal a more serious infection.You experience breathing or heart problems or other serious health problems.You do not feel well and are not getting better.You develop a cough that makes thick mucus.

Antivirals can also be useful in preventing the flu. If you are aware of a flu outbreak in your area, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an antiviral. Prevention is key,and the first choice for flu prevention is the flu shot.
If you are sick, make sure to allow yourself ample rest and get enough fluids like juice and water while avoiding alcohol. Medicine such as aspirin or acetaminophen can control fever and lessen the aches and pains associated with flu. Smoking cigarettes should be avoided while you have the flu because it is a respiratory illness that affects your lungs and nasal passages, which are the same areas that are irritated by smoking. Make an effort to take it easy until you feel better.
The Bird Flu
Differentkinds of flu viruses appear from time to time, including the "bird" or "avian"flu. This is an example of how changes in the flu virus can lead to more serious illness. The bird flu, however, is very rare in people, and in mostcases it has not spread from person to person. This suggests that it may not become widespread in humans, but that may change over time. New vaccines tohelp protect people from the bird flu are in the works. Presently, the flu shotdoes not protect you from the avian flu.
Key Points

The flu can be dangerous for senior citizens.There are ways to prevent the flu.Senior citizens over 50 should get the flu shot every year.Medicare covers the cost of the flu shot.The flu shot is safe.