Are There Alternatives to the Swine Flu Vaccine?
The latest outbreak of H1N1 viral influenza commonly referred to as swine flu or Mexican flu hit the world in the early part of 2009. Although the current outbreak was termed Novel Influenza A’ in the US, previous smaller outbreaks have occurred in Europe and elsewhere. Because of the frequently recurring avian flu outbreaks over the past few years, both the WHO and most countries were better prepared to control the swine flu outbreak. Unlike the avian flu virus, there has been no record of transmission of this flu virus from animals / birds to humans and it is safe to eat cooked pork products. So far the infection has spread only between humans, but there is always the risk that the virus will mutate and eventually transmit between different species.
Most people who have been infected by the flu have shown only mild symptoms and the normal precautions taken for those afflicted with seasonal flu should suffice. These include vaccination (when made available in the market), washing hands, sufficient rest and sleep, exercise, balanced diet with emphasis on fruit and vegetables and avoiding crowds. Covering the face while sneezing or coughing and staying at home during the period of illness (with some level of isolation) also helps in preventing the spread from an infected person; there is some doubt as to how effective face masks are, in this regard. The most common symptoms are body ache, fever, coughing (dry), sneezing, headaches and in some instances – diarrhoea and vomiting. Stricter control and more care is needed for the high risk group comprising people likely to be more severely affected by the virus and these include children below 5 years of age, the elderly (above 65), pregnant women, people with asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and people having muscular and nervous system concerns; hospitalisation may be the best option in extreme cases.
Vaccines used for treating the common influenza have not worked in controlling swine flu and more specific vaccines have been tested. Just a single dose of these is expected to be reasonably effective in preventing an attack on most individuals, but younger children less than 10 years of age are advised 2 injections at an interval of 21 days. More efficient vaccines are also being tested and should be made available shortly. A number of countries are gearing up for mass vaccinations in late 2009 to try and control the spread of the virus among their citizens – something similar to what was undertaken during the polio eradication campaign.
There are a number of options available to control the flu and its symptoms without a swine flu vaccine. Ideally a homeopathic specialist should be consulted to decide on which formulation to take and the dosage required. There are some companies who continuously modify their formulations to create natural flu remedies that take care of differences in the type of flu that is going around as to what works well for the current influenza that may be effective for swine flu.