Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Bird Flu

Experts believe a flu pandemic is long-overdue. The most obvious source is bird flu.

Humans have been catching if from birds for the last decade, but as yet it has still not kick-started a global outbreak.

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What is bird flu?

Like humans and other species, birds are susceptible to flu.

There are many types of bird, or avian, flu.

The most contagious strains, which are usually fatal in birds, are H5 and H7.

There are nine different types of H5. The nine all take different forms – some are highly pathogenic, while some are pretty harmless.

The type currently causing concern is the “highly pathogenic” Asian strain of the H5N1 virus.

Scientists have discovered four different subtypes of H5N1, and there could well be more. However, all are deadly to birds, and can cause disease – and death – in humans.

However, it is important to stress that H5N1 is overwhelmingly a disease that affects birds – and not humans.

It is true that humans have been infected, but almost all have been poultry workers who have come into intimate contact with birds. H5N1 cannot pass easily from human to human.

Migratory wildfowl, notably wild ducks, are natural carriers of the viruses, but are unlikely to actually develop an infection.

The risk is that they pass it on to domestic birds, who are much more susceptible to the virus.

How do humans catch bird flu?

Bird flu was thought only to infect birds until the first human cases were seen in Hong Kong in 1997.

Humans catch the disease through close contact with live infected birds.

Birds excrete the virus in their faeces, which dry and become pulverised, and are then inhaled.

Symptoms are similar to other types of flu – fever, malaise, sore throats and coughs. People can also develop conjunctivitis.

Researchers are now concerned because scientists studying a case in Vietnam found the virus can affect all parts of the body, not just the lungs.

This could mean that many illnesses, and even deaths, thought to have been caused by something else, may have been due to the bird flu virus.

Is it possible to stop bird flu coming into a country?

There is no failsafe way of preventing its spread.

Experts say proper poultry controls – such as preventing wild birds getting in to poultry houses – are vital.

In addition, they say monitoring of the migratory patterns of wild birds should provide early alerts of the arrival of infected flocks – meaning they could be targeted on arrival.

How many people have been affected?

As of January 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 348 cases of H5N1 in humans in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam, leading to 216 deaths.

For the latest WHO information on the numbers of humans infected and killed by avian flu, see related internet links section on right of page.

How quickly is the disease spreading?

After bird flu claimed its first human victim – a three-year-old boy in Hong Kong in May 1997 – the disease was not detected again until February 2003, when a father and son were diagnosed with H5N1, again in Hong Kong.

Since then it has spread westwards through Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Despite mass culls, exclusion zones and other measures put in place to prevent its spread, the H5N1 virus has continued to travel.

In one week in February 2006, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, France, Slovenia, India, Iran and Egypt confirmed their first cases of H5N1 in wild birds.

In April 2005, a dead swan in Scotland was found to have the strain.

But it can’t yet be passed from person to person?

For the most part, humans have contracted the virus following very close contact with sick birds.

There may have been examples of human-to-human transmission, but so far not in the form which could fuel a pandemic.

A case in Thailand indicated the probable transmission of the virus from a girl who had the disease to her mother, who also died.

The girl’s aunt, who was also infected, survived the virus.

UK virology expert Professor John Oxford said these cases indicated the basic virus could be passed between humans, and predicted similar small clusters of cases would be seen again.

It is not the only instance where it has been thought bird flu has been passed between humans.

In 2004, two sisters died in Vietnam after possibly contracting bird flu from their brother who had died from an unidentified respiratory illness.

In a similar case in Hong Kong in 1997, a doctor possibly caught the disease from a patient with the H5N1 virus – but it was never conclusively proved.

What would the consequences of a mass outbreak be?

If the virus gained the ability to pass easily between humans the results could be catastrophic.

Worldwide, experts predict anything between two million and 50 million deaths.

However the mortality rate – which presently stands at around 50% of confirmed cases – could decline as it mutates, they say.

Is there a vaccine?

There is not yet a definitive vaccine, but prototypes which offer protection against the H5N1 strain are being produced.

But antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu which are already available and being stockpiled by countries such as the UK, may help limit symptoms and reduce the chances the disease will spread.

Concerns have been prompted by news that patients in Vietnam have become partially resistant to the Tamiflu, the drug that doctors plan to use to tackle a human bird flu outbreak.

Scientists say it may be helpful to have stocks of other drugs from the same family such as Relenza (zanamivir).

Can I continue to eat chicken?

Yes. Experts say avian flu is not a food-borne virus, so eating chicken is safe.

The only people thought to be at risk are those involved in the slaughter and preparation of meat that may be infected.

However, the Who recommends, to be absolutely safe all meat should be cooked to a temperature of at least 70C. Eggs should also be thoroughly cooked.

Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University underlined the negligible risk to consumers: “The virus is carried in the chicken’s gut.

“A person would have to dry out the chicken meat and would have to sniff the carcass to be at any risk. But even then, it would be very hard to become infected.”

What is being done to contain the virus in the countries affected?

Steps have been taken to try to stop the disease spreading among birds.

Millions of farmyard birds have been culled, while millions more have been vaccinated and confined indoors.

Areas where the disease has been found have been isolated and some countries have banned imports of live birds and poultry products.

In January 2006 international donors pledged $1.9bn (£1.1bn) in the fight against bird flu, while the World Health Organization has devised a rapid-response plan to detect and contain a global flu pandemic.

There are also measures recommended when a wild infected bird is found, including protection and surveillance zones.

However, experts do not recommend culling wild birds. Not only would this be a logistical nightmare, it is unnecessary. It is better to adopt a “wait and see” policy and cull infected farmyard birds if the disease is spreading among these poultry.

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Bird Flue Evolution

Quick Guide: Bird flu
Japan vaccinates bird flu workers
Father ‘caught bird flu from son’
Fresh bird flu outbreak in India
Indonesia ‘needs bird flu help’

Bird flu journey: Watch its spread

Bird flu: Still a threat?

Q&A: Your bird flu concerns

Sources: BBC NEWS:Jan.10,’08

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Featured

Down With a Cold ?

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At some time or another, everyone — even a robust fitness freak — gets felled by the common cold, developing sniffles, sneezing, puffy eyes, fever, body ache and malaise. Children start to develop colds during their first year, the frequency of which may increase to up to six times a year. This leaves the mothers with the feeling that the child is “always ill”. The average adult gets three to four colds a year.

Almost 40 per cent of outpatient medical consultations in a general practice deals with colds and their complications. This is not surprising, as colds are unavoidable infections. They are caused by viruses, 80 per cent of which belong to the rhinovirus family. Not only are there more than a hundred members in this group alone, but the types also mutate at a rapid rate. This makes immunity practically non-existent, or at best short lived. To make matters worse, there is no vaccine available, except for flu or influenza.

Colds are highly contagious. The spread is rapid as the virus, contained in nasal secretions, can be propelled forcefully into the environment by coughing and sneezing. It can also be transferred from the nose to the hands of infected people. Patients can then transfer the virus to door knobs, telephones, banisters, switches and other such objects. The virus can remain dormant but viable for 18 hours or more until it finds a susceptible host. Any person touching the contaminated surface has a 50 per cent chance of picking up the infection.

Infection increases during the rainy season and winter months. People tend to huddle together under umbrellas or shelters. Windows may be kept closed. The close contact and lack of ventilation provide ideal conditions for the spread of the cold virus. Contrary to popular myths, colds are not aggravated by washing the hair at night, eating ice cream or using air-conditioning.

The infection incubates for a day or two before symptoms appear. It may then last a variable period of time, usually 5-14 days. If there is no recovery within two weeks, there may be secondary bacterial infection and complications like sinusitis, ear infection, bronchitis and pneumonia may have set in.

Smokers develop colds more frequently than non-smokers do. Their colds are more severe, take longer to subside and are more likely to be complicated by secondary infection. This is because the cilia — fine protective hairs that line the respiratory passages — are paralysed by nicotine. They, therefore, clear accumulated mucous sluggishly and inefficiently. Also, smokers’ lungs are likely to be scarred, distorted, have a reduced blood supply and function sub-optimally, making elimination of the infection difficult.

Man has reached the moon but a cure for the common cold remains elusive. We still rely on “grandma’s recommendations” of hot drinks like ginger tea, lime juice with honey, rice gruel and chicken soup. These do soothe the irritated throat. Also, resting helps. It reduces the pain in the muscles and bones. Steam inhalations liquefy the secretions and help them to drain, providing relief.

Stuffed and blocked nasal passages can be cleared with saline (not chemical) nose drops. Aspirin and paracetamol reduce fever and pain. Anti histamines reduce itching in the nose and throat and dry up dripping nasal secretions. The older first-generation anti histamines (Avil, Benadryl) are very effective but they cause sedation. The second-generation non-sedating products (loratidine, cetrizine) are less effective.

Many health supplements are advocated to boost immunity and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Many are of doubtful efficacy and have not been studied scientifically. Zinc supplements, however, have been proven to be useful. They can be used as lozenges, syrups or tablets. Not more than 10-15 mg a day of elemental zinc should be taken.

Antibiotics do not work and administering them is futile and inappropriate. They do not shorten the course of the infection. Nor do they prevent complications. Antiviral medications used against the influenza and herpes viruses are ineffective against the rhinovirus. If the cold just refuses to go away and there are no bacterial complications, it may not be a cold at all. It may be an idiosyncratic allergic reaction to something inhaled or ingested from the environment. Mosquito coils, liquid repellents, room fresheners and incense sticks are particularly notorious.

The best advice for someone with a cold — “wait it out”.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

Hope Over High Blood Pressure Jab

A four-monthly jab may one day replace the need to regularly take pills to control blood pressure, scientists say.

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High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease

A team from the Swiss biotechnology firm Cytos found the vaccine against a hormone in the blood significantly cut blood pressure, the Lancet reported.

The jab was tested on 72 patients with high blood pressure and it was found to work without serious side-effects.

The researchers and independent experts said the findings were promising but large-scale trials were now needed.

High blood pressure, which affects a quarter of all adults, doubles the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke and is blamed for 60,000 deaths a year in UK.

Those who are being treated for it often have to take a daily course of pills to keep it under control.

But many people do not keep to their treatment regimes as people with high blood pressure do not display symptoms.

The researchers believe the vaccine, which works against the hormone angiotensin, which causes blood vessels to constrict and increase blood pressure, may offer a simple alternative.

They tested two different doses of the vaccine – 300 microgrammes and 100 microgrammes – as well as a dummy vaccine during the 14-week trial.

Resistance

The jabs were given at the start, and after four weeks and 12 weeks – enough to give a patient four-month resistance.

Neither dose significantly lowered blood pressure at night.

But during the day the larger dose significantly lowered blood pressure, especially during the late morning peak when blood pressure is known to increase.

And, importantly, the vaccine did not have any serious side-effects with the worst being mild flu-like symptoms.

Lead researcher Dr Martin Bachmann said the vaccine could offer a much more simple way of controlling blood pressure and could be administered during regular visits to the doctor.

“Such a regimen is likely to promote adherence to treatment, but will need to be supported by clinical data.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, agreed more research was needed, but described the results as promising.

“Immunisation may be of particular benefit to people who find it difficult to stick to high blood pressure medication, but there is still a long way to go before this approach replaces the highly-effective current treatments.

“Looking after your heart through regular exercise, cutting down on salt, and only drinking in moderation remain the best ways in which we can prevent high blood pressure.”

Other firms are also known to be testing blood pressure vaccines.

Click to see also:->
High blood pressure set to soar

Hypertension trial stopped early

Finger test ‘spots heart disease’

Water ‘helps low blood pressure’

Warning over blood pressure drugs

Sleep drug lowers blood pressure

Gene clues to high blood pressure
Sources: BBC NEWS:7Th. March. ’08

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Food Poisoning

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Bacteria and Foodborne Illness:

Definition:

Foodborne illnesses are caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Harmful chemicals can also cause foodborne illnesses if they have contaminated food during harvesting or processing. Foodborne illnesses can cause symptoms that range from an upset stomach to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration. Most foodborne infections are undiagnosed and unreported, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year about 76 million people in the United States become ill from pathogens, or disease-causing substances, in food. Of these people, about 5,000 die.

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Causes:

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illnesses. Some bacteria may be present on foods when you purchase them. Raw foods are the most common source of foodborne illnesses because they are not sterile; examples include raw meat and poultry that may have become contaminated during slaughter. Seafood may become contaminated during harvest or through processing. One in 10,000 eggs may be contaminated with Salmonella inside the egg shell. Produce such as spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons can become contaminated with Salmonella, Shigella, or Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7. Contamination can occur during growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping, or final preparation. Sources of produce contamination are varied as these foods are grown in soil and can become contaminated during growth or through processing and distribution. Contamination may also occur during food preparation in a restaurant or a home kitchen. The most common form of contamination from handled foods is the calcivirus, also called the Norwalk-like virus.

When food is cooked and left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature, bacteria can multiply quickly. Most bacteria grow undetected because they don’t produce a bad odor or change the color or texture of the food. Freezing food slows or stops bacteria’s growth but does not destroy the bacteria. The microbes can become reactivated when the food is thawed. Refrigeration also can slow the growth of some bacteria. Thorough cooking is needed to destroy the bacteria.

Symptoms:
In most cases of foodborne illnesses, symptoms resemble intestinal flu and may last a few hours or even several days. Symptoms can range from mild to serious and include

  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody
  • fever
  • dehydration

Risk factors:

Some people are at greater risk for bacterial infections because of their age or an unhealthy immune system. Young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, and older adults are at greatest risk.

Complications of foodborne illnesses:

Some micro-organisms, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum, cause far more serious symptoms than vomiting and diarrhea. They can cause spontaneous abortion or death.

In some people, especially children, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can result from infection by a particular strain of bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, and can lead to kidney failure and death. HUS is a rare disorder that affects primarily children between the ages of 1 and 10 years and is the leading cause of acute renal failure in previously healthy children. A child may become infected after consuming contaminated food or beverages, such as meat, especially undercooked ground beef; unpasteurized juices; contaminated water; or through contact with an infected person.

The most common symptoms of HUS infection are vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which may be bloody. In 5 to 10 percent of cases, HUS develops about 5 to 10 days after the onset of illness. This disease may last from 1 to 15 days and is fatal in 3 to 5 percent of cases. Other symptoms of HUS include fever, lethargy or sluggishness, irritability, and paleness or pallor. In about half the cases, the disease progresses until it causes acute renal failure, which means the kidneys are unable to remove waste products from the blood and excrete them into the urine. A decrease in circulating red blood cells and blood platelets and reduced blood flow to organs may lead to multiple organ failure. Seizures, heart failure, inflammation of the pancreas, and diabetes can also result. However, most children recover completely.

See a doctor right away if you or your child has any of the following symptoms with diarrhea:

  • High fever—temperature over 101.5°, measured orally
  • Blood in the stools
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquid down and can lead to dehydration
  • Signs of severe dehydration, such as dry mouth, sticky saliva, decreased urination, dizziness, fatigue, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, or increased heart rate and breathing rate
  • Signs of shock, such as weak or rapid pulse or shallow breathing
  • Confusion or difficulty reasoning

Diagnoses:

Your doctor may be able to diagnose foodborne illnesses from a list of what you’ve eaten recently and from results of appropriate laboratory tests. Diagnostic tests for foodborne illnesses should include examination of the feces. A sample of the suspected food, if available, can also be tested for bacterial toxins, viruses, and parasites

Treatment:

Most cases of foodborne illnesses are mild and can be treated by increasing fluid intake, either orally or intravenously, to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. People who experience gastrointestinal or neurologic symptoms should seek medical attention.

In the most severe situations, such as HUS, hospitalization may be needed to receive supportive nutritional and medical therapy. Maintaining adequate fluid and electrolyte balance and controlling blood pressure are important. Doctors will try to minimize the impact of reduced kidney function. Dialysis may be needed until the kidneys can function normally. Blood transfusions also may be needed.

Causes Of Food Poisoning, Prevension & Treatment

Home Remedy Of Food Poisoning

Alternative medication for Salmonella food poisoning

Herbal treatment for Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning Alternative Medication

Homeopathic treatment of food poisoning ……………….(1)..……………(2)

Prevention:

Most cases of foodborne illnesses can be prevented through proper cooking or processing of food, which kills bacteria. In addition, because bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F, food must be kept out of this temperature range.

Follow these tips to prevent harmful bacteria from growing in food:

  • Refrigerate foods promptly. If prepared food stands at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it may not be safe to eat. Set your refrigerator at 40°F or lower and your freezer at 0°F.
  • Cook food to the appropriate internal temperature—145°F for roasts, steaks, and chops of beef, veal, and lamb; 160°F for pork, ground veal, and ground beef; 165°F for ground poultry; and 180°F for whole poultry. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. Foods are properly cooked only when they are heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illnesses.
  • Prevent cross-contamination. Bacteria can spread from one food product to another throughout the kitchen and can get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, and countertops. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from all ready-to-eat foods.
  • Handle food properly. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, produce, or eggs. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or touching animals.
  • Wash utensils and surfaces before and after use with hot, soapy water. Better still, sanitize them with diluted bleach—1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of hot water.
  • Wash sponges and dish towels weekly in hot water in the washing machine.
  • Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
  • Maintain hot cooked food at 140°F or higher.
  • Reheat cooked food to at least 165°F.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, produce, prepared food, and leftovers within 2 hours.
  • Never defrost food on the kitchen counter. Use the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave oven.
  • Never let food marinate at room temperature—refrigerate it.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Remove the stuffing from poultry and other meats immediately and refrigerate it in a separate container.
  • Wash all unpackaged fruits and vegetables, and those packaged and not marked “pre-washed,” under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Dry all produce with a paper towel to further reduce any possible bacteria.
  • Do not pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

For more information about prevention of foodborne illnesses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a fact sheet on safe food handling.

What is food irradiation?

Food irradiation is the treatment of food with high energy such as gamma rays, electron beams, or x rays as a means of cold pasteurization, which destroys living bacteria to control foodborne illnesses. The United States relies exclusively on the use of gamma rays, which are similar to ultraviolet light and microwaves and pass through food leaving no residue. Food irradiation is approved for wheat, potatoes, spices, seasonings, pork, poultry, red meats, whole fresh fruits, and dry or dehydrated products. Although irradiation destroys many bacteria, it does not sterilize food. Even if you’re using food that has been irradiated by the manufacturer, you must continue to take precautions against foodborne illnesses—through proper refrigeration and handling—to safeguard against any surviving organisms. If you are traveling with food, make sure perishable items such as meats are wrapped to prevent leakage. Be sure to fill the cooler with plenty of ice and store it in the car, not the trunk. If any food seems warmer than 40°F, throw it out.

Links to Other Disorders Related to Foodborne Illnesses

Scientists suspect that foodborne pathogens are linked to chronic disorders and can even cause permanent tissue or organ destruction. Research suggests that when some people are infected by foodborne pathogens, the activation of their immune system can trigger an inappropriate autoimmune response, which means the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. In some people, an autoimmune response leads to a chronic health condition. Chronic disorders that may be triggered by foodborne pathogens are

  • arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • kidney failure
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • autoimmune disorders

Further research is needed to explain the link between these disorders and foodborne illnesses.

Common Sources of Foodborne Illness

Sources of illness: Raw and undercooked meat and poultry
Symptoms: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Bacteria: Campylobacter jejuni, E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella

Sources of illness: Raw foods; unpasteurized milk and dairy products, such as soft cheeses
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
Bacteria: L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, C. jejuni

Sources of illness: Raw and undercooked eggs. Raw eggs are often used in foods such as homemade hollandaise sauce, caesar and other salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings.
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
Bacterium: Salmonella enteriditis

Sources of illness: Raw and undercooked shellfish
Symptoms: Chills, fever, and collapse
Bacteria: Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Sources of illness: Improperly canned goods; smoked or salted fish
Symptoms: Double vision, inability to swallow, difficulty speaking, and inability to breathe. Seek medical help right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
Bacterium: C. botulinum

Sources of illness: Fresh or minimally processed produce; contaminated water
Symptoms: Bloody diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Bacteria: E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia enterocolitica, viruses, and parasites

Points to Remember

Foodborne illnesses result from eating food or drinking beverages that are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

People at greater risk for foodborne illnesses include young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with lowered immunity.

Symptoms usually resemble intestinal flu. See a doctor immediately if you have more serious problems or do not seem to be improving as expected.

Treatment may range from replacement of lost fluids and electrolytes for mild cases of foodborne illnesses to hospitalization for severe conditions such as HUS.

You can prevent foodborne illnesses by taking the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook foods properly and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Refrigerate foods within 2 hours or less after cooking because cold temperatures will help keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying.
  • Clean surfaces well before and after using them to prepare food.

For More Information

American Dietetic Association
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606–6995
Consumer Nutrition Hotline: 1–800–877–1600
Internet: www.eatright.org

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740–3835
Food Information Line: 1–888–SAFEFOOD (723–3366)
Internet: www.cfsan.fda.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1–800–311–3435 or 404–639–3534
Internet: www.cdc.gov

Gateway to Government Food Safety Information
Internet: www.foodsafety.gov

Partnership for Food Safety Education
655 15th Street NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20201
Phone: 202–220–0651
Internet: www.fightbac.org

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250
Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1–888–674–6854
Internet: www.usda.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Phone: 1–877–696–6775 or 202–619–0257
Internet: www.os.dhhs.gov

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20460
Phone: 202–272–0167
Internet: www.epa.gov

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857–0001
Phone: 1–888–INFO–FDA (463–6332)
Internet: www.fda.gov

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Sources:http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bacteria/index.htm

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Flu- Influenza

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Alternative Names:
Flu; Influenza A; Influenza B

Etymology:
The term influenza has its origins in 15th-century Italy, where the cause of the disease was ascribed to unfavourable astrological influences. Evolution in medical thought led to its modification to influenza del freddo, meaning “influence of the cold.” The word “influenza” was first attested in English in 1743 when it was borrowed during an outbreak of the disease in Europe. Archaic terms for influenza include epidemic catarrh, grippe (from the French grippe, meaning flu; sometimes spelled “grip” or “gripe”), sweating sickness, and Spanish fever (particularly for the 1918 pandemic strain).

Description:
It is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses). In humans, common symptoms of influenza infection are fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly in young children and the elderly. Sometimes confused with the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease and is caused by a different type of virus. Although nausea and vomiting can be produced, especially in children, these symptoms are more characteristic of the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes called “stomach flu” or “24-hour flu.”

Typically, influenza is transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus, and from infected birds through their droppings. Influenza can also be transmitted by saliva, nasal secretions, feces and blood. Infections also occur through contact with these body fluids or with contaminated surfaces.

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Flu viruses can remain infectious for about one week at human body temperature, over 30 days at 0 °C (32 °F), and indefinitely at very low temperatures (such as lakes in northeast Siberia). Most influenza strains can be inactivated easily by disinfectants and detergents.

Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, killing millions of people in pandemic years and hundreds of thousands in non-pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains result from the spread of an existing flu virus to humans from other animal species.

Since it first killed humans in Asia in the 1990s, a deadly avian strain named H5N1 has posed the greatest risk for a new influenza pandemic; fortunately, this virus has not mutated to a form that spreads easily between people.

Vaccinations against influenza are most commonly given to high-risk humans in industrialized countries and to farmed poultry. The most common human vaccine is the trivalent flu vaccine that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral strains. Typically this vaccine includes material from two influenza A virus subtypes and one influenza B virus strain. A vaccine formulated for one year may be ineffective in the following year, since the influenza virus changes rapidly over time and different strains become dominant. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat influenza, with neuraminidase inhibitors being particularly effective.

Causes

The flu usually begins abruptly, with a fever between 102 to 106°F. (An adult typically has a lower fever than a child.) Other common symptoms include a flushed face, body aches, and lack of energy. Some people have dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last 5 days.

Somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of the illness, the “whole body” symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase. The flu virus can settle anywhere in the respiratory tract, producing symptoms of a cold, croup, sore throat, bronchiolitis, ear infection, or pneumonia.

The most prominent of the respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore throat and headache. Nasal discharge (runny nose) and sneezing are common. These symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4-7 days. Sometimes, the fever returns. Cough and tiredness usually last for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.

The flu usually arrives in the winter months. The most common way to catch the flu is by breathing in droplets from coughs or sneezes. Less often, it is spread when you touch a surface such as a faucet handle or phone that has the virus on it, and then touch your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

Symptoms appear 1-7 days later (usually within 2-3 days). Because the flu spreads through the air and is very contagious, it often strikes a community all at once. This creates a cluster of school and work absences. Many students become sick within 2 or 3 weeks of the flu’s arrival in a school.

Tens of millions of people in the United States get the flu each year. Most get better within a week or two, but thousands become sick enough to be hospitalized. About 36,000 people died each year from complications of the flu.

Anyone at any age can have serious complications from the flu, but those at highest risk include:

People over 50

Children between 6 months and 2 years

Women more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season

Anyone living in a long-term care facility

Anyone with chronic heart, lung, or kidney conditions, diabetes, or weakened immune system

Sometimes people confuse cold and flu, which share some of the same symptoms and typically occur at the same time of the year. However, the two diseases are very different. Most people get a cold several times each year, and the flu only once every several years.

People often use the term “stomach flu” to describe a viral illness where vomiting or diarrhea are the main symptoms. This is incorrect, as the stomach symptoms are not caused by the flu virus. Flu infections are primarily respiratory infections.

Diagnosis
In humans, influenza’s effects are much more severe than those of the common cold, and last longer. Recovery takes about one to two weeks. Influenza, however, can be deadly, especially for the weak, old or chronically ill.

Symptoms

Fever – may be high

Headache

Tiredness

Dry cough

Sore throat

Stuffy, congested nose

Muscle aches and stiffness

Other symptoms may include:

Nasal discharge

Shortness of breath

Wheezing

Croupy cough

Chills

Fatigue

Malaise

Sweating

Loss of appetite

Vomiting

Dizziness

Worsening of underlying illnagnosis:ess, such as asthma or heart failure.

Diagnosis:
Most people who get influenza will recover in one to two weeks, but others will develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia). According to the World Health Organization: “Every winter, tens of millions of people get the flu. Most are home, sick and miserable, for about a week. Some ”mostly the elderly  die. We know the world-wide death toll exceeds a few hundred thousand people a year, but even in developed countries the numbers are uncertain, because medical authorities don’t usually verify who actually died of influenza and who died of a flu-like illness.” Even healthy people can be affected, and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age. People over 50 years old, very young children and people of any age with chronic medical conditions, are more likely to get complications from influenza: such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus, and ear infections.

The flu can worsen chronic health problems. People with emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma may experience shortness of breath while they have the flu, and influenza may cause worsening of coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure.[56] Smoking is another risk factor associated with more serious disease and increased mortality from influenza

The evaluation of an individual with flu symptoms should include a thorough physical exam and, in cases where pneumonia is suspected, a chest x-ray.

Additional blood work may be needed. They may include a complete blood count, blood cultures, and sputum cultures.

The most common method for diagnosing the flu is an antigen detection test, which is done by swabbing the nose and throat, then sending a sample to the laboratory for testing.

The results of these tests can be available rapidly, and can help decide if specific treatment is appropriate. However, the diagnosis can often be made by simply identifying symptoms without further testing.

Treatment:

If you have mild illness and are not at high-risk, take these steps:

Rest
Take medicines that relieve symptoms and help you rest
Drink plenty of liquids
Avoid aspirin (especially teens and children)
Avoid alcohol and tobacco
Avoid antibiotics (unless necessary for another illness)
If the flu is diagnosed within 48 hours of when symptoms begin, especially if you are high risk for complications, antiviral medications may help shorten the length of symptoms by approximately a day.

In the past, doctors commonly prescribed the antiviral medications amantadine and rimantadine to treat type A influenza. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that neither drug be used for such treatment because of growing resistance to the drugs. Instead, the agency recommends using oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza), which are active against both influenza A and B. Each of these medicines has different side effects and affects different viruses. Your doctor will determine which one is best for you.

Treatment is usually not necessary for children, but if the illness is diagnosed early and the patient is at risk of developing a severe case, it can be started. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is the best choice for children age 12 and older. It is available in as a liquid, which may make it easier to give to the child than zanamivir (Relenza), which comes in an inhaler.

Treatment will only help if started early and only if the illness is actually influenza. It will not help treat a regular cold.

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Prognosis:In most individuals who are otherwise healthy, the flu goes away within 7 to 10 days.

Possible Complications :

Possible complications, especially for those at high risk, include:

Pneumonia
Encephalitis (infection of the brain)
Bronchitis
Sinus infections
Ear infections

Prevention :

A yearly vaccine is recommended for infants, the elderly, women who may be pregnant during flu season, and those with certain chronic health conditions. The vaccine is also recommended for people who work or live with others at high risk.

A flu shot can help lower one’s chances of getting the flu. A flu shot is generally available to people who:

Are over 6 months old
Don’t have a serious allergy to eggs
Haven’t had a serious reaction to flu shots in the past
Are not pregnant
A new nasal spray-type flu vaccine called FluMist is available to people aged 2 to 49 years old. FluMist uses a live, weakened virus instead of a dead one like the flu shot. In one study, the nasal spray provided protection against the flu in up to 93% of children.

Homeopathic Prevention of Influenza

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000080.htm