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Swine influenza, also called pig influenzaswine fluhog flu and pig flu, is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza virusesSwine influenza virus (SIV) or swine-origin influenza virus (S-OIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs.[2] As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known asH1N1H1N2, H2N1, H3N1H3N2, and H2N3. [1]  

Grater Kashmir: What are the symptoms of Swine Flu and how is this influenza different from common cold? 
PK: The two of these infections resemble each other in presenting with cough, sneezing and fever along with sore throat. However fever is commoner in influenza and nasal stuffiness in common cold. Further gastrointestinal symptoms and other severe complications can accompany influenza and are not usually seen with common cold. Extreme exhaustion and severe cough is more common in flu. Doctors can distinguish between the two and when in doubt they order testing. 

GK: Advisories for the people as most of them are unaware of the dos and donts? 
PK: First of all no one should panic. The healthcare personnel are adequately geared for tackling the problem. Frequent hand-washing and covering of the nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing are paramount so that people do not transmit infection to others. This is true for all respiratory infections. Aerosols do not travel beyond a meter and we must maintain a distance of at least one meter from infected patients. A sick patient should voluntarily maintain social distancing and avoid congregations and crowded social or religious settings. Adequate rest helps in combating flu in most of the cases and should be undertaken. 

GK: What are the preventive measures? 
PK: We cannot prevent it. If it has to come, it will come. Could it be prevented then US would have been the first but they have witnessed biggest number of recorded deaths. If the person with history of close contact with person suffering from respiratory illness gets symptoms of flu, he must immediately consult a doctor for possible testing and treatment. 

GK: Social media is abuzz with different recommendations including avoiding chicken and mutton as well as some home based remedies? What is your take on that? 
PK: There is no truth in such rumors and there is no reason to avoid chicken and mutton consumption. Lots of fluids and rest helps patients with viral infections and influenza is just one more virus. We all need to be aware but yes panic certainly does not help. 

GK: The all important question: how many cases have been administered in Kashmir? 
PK: We have been recording cases of influenza right since the return of Hajjis from Saudi Arabia last year. Each of the positively tested Haji was treated in accordance with treatment guidelines. We have observed an increase in activity for the past 4-6 weeks and it is continuing. Without going into exact numbers, I would say that we have seen scores of patients. Fortunately we did not have many severe cases. It is a dynamic process and cases get diagnosed on a regular basis. 

GK: What about facilities for treatment at SKIMS? 
PK: SKIMS administration ordered drugs when nobody even had a whiff of the presence of the infection in the community. We have stockpiled the required drugs and carved out a special area in the hospital replete with ventilators for anyone who requires advanced respiratory support. Fortunately we did not need to admit anyone to the facility as yet. [2]


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