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Written by Dr Swati Rajagopal


New Delhi: At a time when the world is battling lethal novel coronavirus that has claimed at least 2,663 lives in China so far, the Supreme Court of India has been hit by the deadly swine flu with its six judges being infected with the virus. On Tuesday, 25 February 2020, Justice DY Chandrachud confirmed that six judges in the apex court are down with swine flu, also known as H1N1 flu, adding that a meeting had been held with the chief justice to discuss preventive measures.

A number of cities across the country, including Bengaluru and Meerut, have reported a surge in the number of cases as swine flu makes a comeback this season. Earlier, SAP ordered shutting down its offices in Bengaluru, Gurugram and Mumbai after two of its employees (in Bengaluru) tested positive for swine flu to contain the spread of the virus.

Health experts believe that dip in temperatures and climate change are some of the probable reasons which have resulted in an increase in the number of swine flu cases. This highlights the need to take influenza threats seriously as it has the potential to spread across the globe and cause pandemics.

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a respiratory infection that’s caused by an influenza strain started in pigs. It causes symptoms similar to the regular flu - such as fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, cough, body aches, watery eyes, headache, fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, acute dysentery, etc.

Swine flu is very contagious and can be spread from person to person via saliva and mucus particles. A person infected with the H1N1 virus can spread it by sneezing, coughing, etc. So, you can catch swine flu if you come in contact with droplets from an infected person or germ-laden surfaces or germs on hands. People who have the virus can spread it one day before they show any symptoms and as many as seven days after they become ill.

How to protect yourself from swine flu

As the country continues to witness a significant rise in H1N1 cases, talked to Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant-Infectious Disease, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, who suggests a few precautionary measures to help you stay safe from the deadly virus.

  • Avoid contact and large gatherings during swine flu season
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Do not touch your face – nose, eyes, mouth, etc.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • It is advisable that if one has symptoms of swine flu, he/she should avoid travelling as it may lead to cross-transmission of the disease
  • Consume foods which give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to function
  • Eat a diet rich in protein and antioxidants that are useful in enhancing your immunity
  • Consume a lot of vegetables, warm soups, fruits rich in Vitamin C that will ensure the body remains hydrated for long
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated to help battle flu
  • Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages, alcohol and processed foods when tackling flu
  • Additional care and precautions are required to be taken for children, elderly, pregnant women and people suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma, emphysema, diabetes or a heart condition as they are at a higher risk of complications from the flu

Getting a yearly vaccination is an effective strategy to prevent swine flu and reduce secondary complications from influenza.

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