Category Archives: Viral Infections

Swine Flu: Updates, Symptoms, Medication, Vaccine

The swine flu virus of year 2009 is a new strain of virus, and hence currently there is no proven Swine Flu vaccine, and that is one of the main reasons why dozens of people have already died from it, and WHO has raised the threat of this disease to level 5, which is the second highest in the pandemic threat scale of 6.

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The 2009 swine flu outbreak began in April 2009 with a new strain of influenza virus. The new strain is commonly called swine flu, but some parties object to the name and it has also been referred to as Mexican flu, swine-origin influenza, North American influenza,and 2009 H1N1 flu.

The outbreak is believed to have started in March 2009, in a Mexican town called La Gloria, which is located on the border of a pig farming center where over a million pigs are raised every year.

And it is believed that the virus has somehow used the pigs as a carrier and mutated into a human-communicable disease in one of the people in contact their contact.

Local outbreaks of an influenza-like illness were first detected in three areas of Mexico, but the virus responsible was not clinically identified as a new strain until April 24, 2009.

Following the identification, its presence was soon confirmed in various Mexican states and in Mexico City. Within days, isolated cases (and suspected cases) were identified elsewhere in Mexico, the U.S., and several other Northern Hemisphere countries.

By April 28, the new strain was confirmed to have spread to Spain, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Israel, and the virus was suspected in many other nations, with a total of over 3,000 candidate cases, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to change its pandemic alert phase to “Phase 5”, which denotes “widespread human infection”.

Despite the scale of the alert, the WHO stated on April 29 that a majority of people infected with the virus have made a full recovery without need of medical attention or antiviral drugs.

The new virus strain seems to be a mutation of four strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1. Analysis at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the four component strains as one endemic in humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in pigs (swine).

On April 25, 2009, the WHO formally determined the situation to be a “public health emergency of international concern”, with knowledge lacking in regard to “the clinical features, epidemiology, and virology of reported cases and the appropriate responses”.Government health agencies around the world expressed concerns over the outbreak and are monitoring the situation closely.

Bird & Swine Flu Information

The infection known as “Bird Flu” or “Swine Flu” is caused by the “avian influenza virus” (avian – bird, influenza – flu). Although these types of flu viruses are naturally transmitted from one bird to another, (wild birds from around the world are thought to carry the virus in their body) they do not normally render their hosts ill.

Unfortunately, the Bird Flu is extremely contagious among birds; therefore this infection can easily be transmitted to domestic birds like chickens, ducks, and turkeys – eventually leading to their death.

One swine strain was widespread in the United States, the other in Eurasia. The common human H1N1 influenza virus affects millions of people every year.

According to the WHO, “In annual influenza epidemics 5-15% of the population are affected with upper respiratory tract infections, which results in between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths every year around the world. ”

In industrialized countries most of these deaths occur in those 65 or older – ie people with weaker immune systems. The United Nations WHO and the U.S. CDC have expressed serious concern about the situation, as it has the potential to become a flu pandemic due to the novelty of the influenza strain, its transmission from human to human, and the unusually high mortality rate in Mexico.

Common cold/Flu, Avian Flu, or Swine Flu?

Although the deadly Bird & Swine Flu continues to spread worldwide with the help of migratory birds, most people will not recognise the difference between a common cold and the Avian Flu.

Following is a list of the symptoms of the common cold against that of Bird & Swine Flu in order to help you and your family take better care of yourselves.

Remember: paying attention to details and learning this difference could actually save your life and those of your immediate family.

Common Cold/Flu Symptoms Avian Flu, Swine Flu
Rare FEVER/CHILLS Between 38 and 40 Degrees Celsius
Rare HEADACHE Prominent and severe
Rare MUSCLE ACHES Severe
Sometimes EXHAUSTION Prominent; lasts up to 3 weeks
Always STUFFY NOSE Sometimes
Very Common SNEEZING Sometimes
Common SORE THROAT Sometimes
Prominent; mild discomfort COUGH Common; mild to severe discomfort
Never VOMITING Rare

Please Note: As the Avian Flu and Swine Flu virus spreads throughout the world, even a normal lifestyle can put you at risk. Even the most innocent handshake or close indoor seating arrangements have made churches, mosques and synagogues dangerous places to be.

Spending time in a place where lots of people crowd together increases the risk of being infected. Metro trains and public transport are the most likely carriers of the virus within a city. So please avoid public places to the extent possible.

Also check out this post:  Swine Flu Vaccine- Tamiflu

Skin cells form First-line defence against Viral Infections

Scientists at Melbourne University in Australia have discovered that certain skin cells, called dendritic cells, can recognize viruses and respond right away, a finding which could improve treatment of viral skin infections.

The findings describe the function of the cells that trigger the initial immune response to viral infection, known as dendritic cells.

“Dendritic cells are like police patrolling our blood and tissues for anything unusual. There are many different types of them, so we wanted to examine how they differ in their function,” said Dr Sammy Bedoui of Melbourne University, who led an international team.

According to them, the work identifies previously unrecognized first-line defence mechanisms important in barrier locations such as the skin and the gut, often used as portals of entry by viruses.

Using an animal model of skin infection with the cold sore virus, the scientists examined two aspects of anti-viral immune responses by studying the cells involved in the initial stimulation of the immune response, and cells that remember past infections to boost the response after reinfection.

Reference: NDTV.com

How to Identify Bronchitis vs Common Cold vs Pneumonia?

Almost everyone gets a cold in their lifetime, and many people will get cold at least once every year.

And there are times when a cold may become something worse, so the question of the day is how do you know you have bronchitis instead of a lingering cold.

Question: How Do You Know You Have Bronchitis? What are the Key Symptoms?

Often, a cold is the first step in developing bronchitis so some cold symptoms will also be present in bronchitis. Identifying the current cough as something more than just a part of a cold — is the complex part of detecting if you have bronchitis.

  • With colds, your cough may be rather dry with no expulsion of phlegm or mucus. However, with bronchitis, the coughs are moist, producing yellow or green sputum.
  • Another symptom for bronchitis is wheezing and chest pain — ie behind the sternum (breast bone). When your bronchial tubes are inflamed, they are producing mucus which creates a rattling, wheezing noise when you breathe. Of course, the pain in the chest occurs from repeated coughing as well as from the bronchial tube inflammation.
  • Fatigue and fever are two additional signs that can show how you know you do have bronchitis. Chronic coughing can take a toll on your body causing tiredness while fever is common when you body is fighting an infection. Of course, these two symptoms are also prevalent in pneumonia as well.

Question: How do you know you if you have bronchitis instead of pneumonia?

For that you can get chest x-ray or “Bronchoscopy” at the hospital or doctor’s office. The x-rays will reveal clear lungs with bronchitis, but infection is will be visible in the lungs of a pneumonia patient.

Question: What are the Treatment Options?

Once you know that you do have bronchitis, specific treatment can be started.

  • If the cause is a bacteria, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. A blood test and sample of the phlegm/sputum can show how you know you do have bronchitis caused by bacteria.
  • If the cause is a virus (and this seems to be more common) you can’t solve it with antibiotics (as you may know already), and you just have to wait and let the illness run its course. However, you could still ease your symptoms like the inhalation of steam, consuming plenty of fluids and taking a pain reliever for those body aches.

Question: How can I prevent it from coming in future?

That’s very difficult give that we live in a society and we have to constantly interact with people. Even if your body is able to Once you have become better, think about future. The best defense is preventative maintenance like hand washing and avoiding disease prone areas. Regular exercise can keep your respiratory system in good shape for

Bronchitis vs Sinus Infection

When you are sick, sometimes you can have a problem determining what exactly you have such as determining between a cold and bronchitis or even between bronchitis and pneumonia.

While Bronchitis and Sinus Infection may share a few symptoms, for the most part, these illnesses occur in different parts of the body and therefore can be quite distinctive.

Bronchitis or Sinus Infection – The Differences

With bronchitis, your airways, also known as bronchial tubes, which lead from the trachea to the lungs, become inflamed due to irritants and infection. Bronchitis typically produces a cough in which phlegm is expelled. If a virus is the cause then no drugs are available to fight the viruses off. Occasionally, bacterial infections can be blamed for causing bronchitis.

In determining bronchitis or sinus infection, a sinus infection occurs when the hollow cavities around your eyes and cheekbones called sinuses become inflamed. This inflammation is typically due to inadequate drainage of mucus and fluids due to colds, infections, allergies and even physical deformities of the nose like a deviated septum. The primary symptoms of a sinus infection include some coughing when drainage occurs in the back of the throat as well as discolored nasal discharge, tenderness in the eye and facial area, aching teeth, fatigue, eye swelling, headaches and more.

Similar Treatment works for Bronchitis or Sinus Infection

When a bacterial infection is the cause of bronchitis or sinus infection, both conditions require a course of antibiotics as treatment. In addition, some of the home remedies used to ease the pain and discomfort of bronchitis or sinus infection will be the same too.

With both conditions, the inhalation of steam from a hot shower or a vaporizer alleviates some symptoms, only in different ways. The steam loosens the mucus lining the bronchial tubes to ease breathing and coughing in bronchitis whereas with sinus infections, the steam helps loosen nasal congestion so that you can blow your nose and expel the mucus in that manner.

For bronchitis or sinus infection, you could also eat spicy foods to help loosen and thin mucus thereby giving your body an easier way of expelling it. With bronchitis, the mucus is loosened in the chest area while mucus in the head area is loosened in sinus infections. And paying more attention to cleanliness by washing your hands and avoiding other sick people can go a long way in preventing both illnesses.

As you can see, there is little confusion in determining bronchitis or sinus infection. While each condition afflicts different parts of the body, similar treatments can help clear up both conditions.

Bronchitis in Children: Symptoms & Treatment

When a cold leads to the addition of a cough, child could be developing bronchitis, a respiratory condition where the lining the trachea and the bronchial tubes leading to the lungs and become inflamed, producing an abnormal amount of mucus. The development of a cough is the first in a line of symptoms of bronchitis in children.

How Bronchitis Occurs

As mentioned above, bronchitis often manifests itself on the tail end of a cold and therefore is most likely caused by a virus rather than bacteria. When a viral infection is the cause of bronchitis, antibiotics do not help this condition. In children, symptoms of bronchitis present themselves after a cold or even the flu and can even be the result of the measles or whooping cough.

Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products can lower the immune system of children, inviting more colds, thus inviting bronchitis as well. Heavy allergens in the air and even air pollution can be contributing factors of this respiratory illness.

Symptoms of Bronchitis in Children

Symptoms of bronchitis in children typically start with the common cold, so sore throat, coughing, mild fever and runny nose are all signs. You will also notice that with the cough that accompanies a cold, it may start off dry but as it turns moist, it could be a sure sign of bronchitis developing.

Other symptoms of bronchitis in children include shortness of breath and even some wheezing. Keep in mind however that asthma also shares these symptoms so only a doctor using a stethoscope to listen to the child’s lungs can make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment and Recovery for Children with Bronchitis

With the onset of symptoms of bronchitis in children, you should immediately make an appointment with the doctor to determine that bronchitis is indeed the culprit. In many cases, a virus is the cause so you should do what you can to ease the symptoms of bronchitis in children to make them more comfortable, which in turn speeds up the recovery process.

Fluids such as water, juice and warm soup are all great at soothing the cough as well as thinning the mucus secretions so that they are easier to expel. Occasionally, body aches and mild fever could occur so a children’s pain reliever could be administered.

Steam from a shower or vaporizer also eases the symptoms of bronchitis in children and can be administered several times a day as needed.

For the most part, bronchitis clears up within five days to a week. However, if the symptoms of bronchitis in children last longer or recur frequently, a doctor can determine if there is an underlying condition which could be contributing to the problem.