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Swine Flu in Pregnancy
What is Swine Flu?
It is a respiratory(associated with breathing) disease caused by a virus. This virus is similar to the influenza virus responsible for causing the common cold.
The scientific name of the virus is H1N1 type A influenza virus.This strain was earlier known to infect pigs(swine family), thus the name swine flu.It is a new strain of the virus, previously unknown in humans, hence, there is no known immunity in humans against this virus.
What are the symptoms:
There are three main symptoms :
shortness of breath.
and a combination of one or many of these:
Headache, aching muscles, running nose, sneezing, chills, tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is usually a mild disease for most people. Symptoms appear quickly and last for almost for one week to ten days.
How do I know if I am at higher risk?
Certain categories of people seem to be at higher risk for complications from swine flu. These are:
Asians, especially people living in poorly ventilated colonies.
People having associated ailments like - asthma, diabetes, paralysis, previous strokes, spinal problems, and jaundice.
Extremes of body weight;very thin built or obese people.
Teenage mothers, women in their second and third trimesters are at higher risk.
How can swine flu harm my baby?
For the majority of pregnant women, swine flu does not cause any serious damage to the mother or the baby.
Fever in the first three months may increase the risk of neural tube and birth defects.
Fever during labor may cause neonatal convulsions, encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and fetal death.
Pregnant women should always take fever seriously and contact their doctor when the temperature goes more than 100 degrees.
How does swine flu affect me during my pregnancy?
Active infection by swine flu virus may cause miscarriages, preterm delivery, and adverse delivery outcomes.
There is a higher risk of hospitalization/ ICU admission during pregnancy.
Chest infections/ Secondary bacterial infections are common resulting in pneumonia or even brain infections.
What can I do to protect myself?
Protection can be at three levels:
1) Taking general precautions- which is most useful for prevention.
2) Use of vaccines.
3) use of drugs
Use of face masks will not prevent swine flu. Focus instead on hygiene and clean surroundings.
It is safe to consume well cooked pork and pork products.