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Guidance for Clinicians & Public Health Professionals
(as on 15th MAY 2009)What is swine influenza?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses
cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and
human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenzaviruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes)
and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At
this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1.
However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been
Can swine flu infect humans?
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human
infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in people with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine
industry). In addition, there have been documented cases of persons spreading swine flu to others.
How does it spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same
way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may
become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What is considered as the ‘infectious period’?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially
contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious
How many cases of swine influenza have been reported worldwide?
The current situation regarding the outbreak of swine influenza A (H1N1) is evolving rapidly. As of 27th April 2009, the United States Government has reported 40
laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), with no deaths. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection with the same virus,
including seven deaths. Canada has reported six cases, with no deaths, while Spain has reported one case, with no deaths and Scotland has reported 2 cases.
On the advice of the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization, the Director‐ General has raised the level of influenza pandemic alert, indicating the
likelihood of a pandemic has increased
, but not that a pandemic is inevitable.
Are there any travel restrictions issued by the WHO?
WHO has not issued any travel restrictions or border closures
; however, the
agency recommends people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention. In
addition, the CDCrecommends forgoing any nonessential travel to Mexico.
What are the clinical features of swine flu in humans?
Swine influenza A virus infection (swine flu) can cause a wide range of symptoms,
including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people
have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.
Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe.
Severe disease with pneumonia, respiratory failure and even death is possible with swine flu infection. Certain groups might be more likely to develop a severe illness
from swine flu infection, such as persons with chronic medical conditions. Sometimes bacterial infections may occur at the same time as or after infection with influenza
viruses and lead to pneumonias, ear infections, or sinus infections.How can one diagnose swine flu?
Clinicians should consider the possibility of swine influenza virus infections in patientspresenting with febrile respiratory illness. If swine flu is suspected, clinicians should
obtain a respiratory swab for swine influenza testing and place it in a refrigerator (not a freezer). Once collected, the clinician should contact their state or local health
department to facilitate transport and timely diagnosis at a state publichealth laboratory.
Case Definitions for Infection with Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus
A confirmed case
of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person
with an acute febrile respiratory illness with laboratory confirmed swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection by one or more of the following tests:
1. real‐time RT‐PCR (real time‐ polymerase chain reaction)
2. viral cultureInfectious period
The infectious period for a confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as 1 day prior to the case’s illness onset to 7 days after onset.
A probable case
of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person with an acute febrile respiratory illness who is:
• positive for influenza A, but negative for H1 and H3 by influenza RT‐PCR, or
• positive for influenza A by an influenza rapid test or an influenza immunofluorescence
assay (IFA) plus meets criteria for a suspected caseA suspected case
of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person
with acute febrile respiratory illness with onset• within 7 days of close contact with a person who is a confirmed case of swine
• within 7 days of travel to community either within the United States or
internationallywhere there are one or more confirmed swine influenza A(H1N1) cases, or
• resides in a community where there are one or more confirmed swine influenza cases.
is defined as: within about 6 feet of an ill person who is a confirmed
or suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection during the case’s
infectious period.Acute respiratory illness
is defined as: recent onset of at least two of the
following: rhinorrhea or nasal congestion, sore throat, cough (with or without fever or feverishness)
High risk group for complications of influenza
is defined as: a person who is at
high‐risk for complications of seasonal influenza: However, it too early to ascertain
what persons are at high‐risk for complications of swine influenza A(H1N1) virus
Clinicians should consider swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with febrile respiratory disease and who
• live in areas in the U.S. with confirmed human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection or
• who traveled recently to Mexico or were in contact with persons who had febrilerespiratory illness and were in the areas of the U.S. with confirmed swine influenza
cases or Mexico in the 7 days preceding their illness onset.What steps should be taken for Infection Control of Ill Persons in a
Patients with suspected or confirmed case‐status should be placed in a single patient
with the door kept closed. If available, an airborne infection isolation room
(AIIR) with negative pressure air handling with 6 to 12 air changes per hour can be used. Air can be exhausted directly outside or be re‐circulated after filtration by a
high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. For suctioning, bronchoscopy, or
intubation, use a procedure room with negative pressure air handling.
The ill person should wear a surgical mask when outside of the patient room
should be encouraged to wash hands frequently and follow respiratory hygiene practices. Cups and other utensils used by the ill person should be washed with soap
and water before use by other persons. Routine cleaning and disinfection strategies used during influenza seasons can be applied to the environmental management of
swine influenza.Standard, Droplet and Contact precautions should be used
for all patient care
activities, and maintained for 7 days after illness onset or until symptoms have resolved. Maintain adherence to hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or
using hand sanitizer
immediately after removing gloves and other equipment and after any contact with respiratory secretions. Personnel providing care to or
collecting clinical specimens from suspected or confirmed casesshould wear disposable non sterile gloves, gowns, and eye protection
to prevent conjunctival exposure.What should be the advice for caring of an infected person at home?
• Stay home for 7 days after the start of illness and fever is gone• Get plenty of rest
• Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated
• Cover coughs and sneezes. Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol‐based
hand rub often and especially after using tissues and after coughing or sneezing into hands.
• Avoid close contact with others – do not go to work or school while ill
• Be watchful for emergency warning signs (see below) that might indicate you need
to seek medical attentionWhen to Seek Emergency Medical Care
Get medical care right away if the sick person at home:• has difficulty breathing or chest pain
• has purple or blue discoloration of the lips• is vomiting and unable to keep liquids down
• has signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry
• has seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions)• is less responsive than normal or becomes confused
• Keep the sick person in a room separate from the common areas of the house. (Forexample, a spare bedroom with its own bathroom, if that’s possible.) Keep the
For any other information contact freely to;
Nadeem A. Chattha
Director International Operations
& Business Development
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