Photo by Katerha, Flickr CommonsAvoiding a flu epidemic and new Swine and Avian strains

Flu is a nasty infection whatever the source but especially so for new strains that are developing around the world. In the next couple of paragraphs are some suggestions on what symptoms to watch out for, what the sources of current strains are and when you should see a doctor (always when pregnant).

Staying healthy and rested is the best way to combat infection but getting ready for an overseas trip can be a stressful and demanding task. It can also lead to a compromised immune system more open to infection whether you’re home or jet-setting. If you do develop flu symptoms, you were exposed from one to three days earlier. The symptoms usually continue for about 8 days until you recover. It’s a difficult loss of school, work, vacation or business travel time, but not always avoidable.

Based on information from the U.S. Mayo Clinic, symptoms for Swine flu, or other flu strains, include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

If you’re generally healthy and develop flu symptoms like coughing, body aches, chills and fever, there’s no need to call a doctor. However it’s time for professional health care if you’re pregnant or have a chronic disease like emphysema or a heart condition.

There’s no need for panic. Whether it’s called Swine or Avian flu, the World Health Organization is on pandemic preparedness and monitoring any flu epidemic globally, especially in Asia. Much has been learned about these new flu strains since the first outbreak of Swine flu, H1N1, in 2009 which surprised the world. Before the virus receded over 17,000 people died from symptoms.

Each year the virus manages to change again and in China where the first human carriers are often discovered, strong measures have been taken to slow the spread to other regions. The government is much more pro-active. The Ministry of Health is alerting travelers to new H7N9 bird flu in China and the Coronavirus in the Middle-East. “The Ministry has decided to take additional measures, especially in view of the upcoming school holidays where Singaporeans are likely to travel abroad,” a MOH spokesman told the Singapore Press, adding that the health notices are being handed out to travelers at airports.

The recommendation is to get medical help early if you’re traveling in that region, or Saudi Arabia, Jordan or the United Arab Emirates and develop early flu symptoms. Travelers should also report their travel history to doctors, particularly if they have been to the Anhui, Beijing, Henan, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang areas of China.

Not all travelers falling sick are catching the flu.  As of April 18, four Singaporeans who fell ill after returning from China were picked up by public hospitals. Tests however showed that they did not have the H7N9 virus.

It takes awareness and diligence. Take care of yourself out there and take responsibility if you develop flu symptoms, to contact your doctor or the authorities to help the virus from spreading across the planet.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons