H1N1: What Is It, What Are The Risks And How Can We Prevent It?

What-is-Swine-Flu-and-What-Are-The-Risks

Swine Flu, also known as H1N1 influenza, is, despite its name, not the same as seasonal flu.

When the first outbreak happened in 2009, tests revealed that the illness has more in common with the flu viruses found in swine (pigs) than the influenza viruses humans are used to in colder months.

However, symptoms of swine flu are much the same as those of human flu, including:

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

What Causes H1N1?

H1N1 is caused by a virus, and is spread from person to person. The virus is present in droplets expelled by an infected person when they cough or sneeze, and can then infect another person through their breathing in those droplets, or touching a surface contaminated by the virus and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Although a common fear back when the virus was first identified, you cannot catch swine flu from eating or touching pork products.

How Can Doctors Diagnose H1N1?

It may be difficult for people to be diagnosed with H1N1 at first, as the symptoms are so closely tied in with those of regular flu. If you do see a doctor, they will review your symptoms and then do a rapid flu test, which will tell them whether or not you have the flu, and also looks for several other viruses.

If these tests are negative and your doctor suspects you are suffering from H1N1, they will need to do a dedicated test that only checks for swine flu. This takes a few days to come back with results, so a doctor may start treatment right away if they suspect that you have the virus.

Swine Flu Pandemic

The 2009 swine flu pandemic lasted from January 2009 until August 2010 and was the second pandemic featuring H1N1 influenza, coming after the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-1920. Below are a few of the main points regarding the pandemic.

  • Although the H1N1 virus had been seen before, this particular strain was a unique combination of viruses never before seen in either humans or animals.
  • The virus took hold quickly and spread all over the world, affecting both children and adults under 65, and the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic on June 11 2009.
  • By the end of the pandemic, the number of lab-confirmed deaths reported to the WHO was 18,449, but it is estimated that the virus actually caused somewhere between 150,000 to 575,000 deaths globally.
  • Two types of vaccine were produced and distributed worldwide, beginning 1 October 2009. These were a TIV (injection) of three strains of flu virus, which allows the body to make antibodies, and a LAIV (nasal spray) that works by inoculating the body with the same three flu strains.

Risk Factors For Swine Flu

Unlike other types of flu virus, swine flu was originally most common in children aged 5 and above, and young adults. This was particularly perplexing to scientists, as almost every other flu infection is a higher risk for complications in the very old or very young.

Over time, this has balanced out so that people are far more likely to get infected with swine flu if they are in a busy social environment with a lot of people that are infected with the illness.

Groups that are most at risk of serious complications if they become infected with swine flu are:

  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Children under the age of 5
  • Young adults and teens receiving long-term aspirin-based therapy
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic illnesses (asthma, diabetes etc)

Preventing Swine Flu

The very best way to protect yourself against swine flu is to get a yearly flu vaccination, which contains a number of flu strains designed to boost your immunity to most types of influenza.

The spread of swine flu can also be inhibited by:

  • Frequently washing hands or cleansing with hand sanitiser
  • Avoiding touching your nose, mouth or eyes when out in public or with other people
  • Staying home when you are ill
  • Listening to recommendations from the WHO, CDC or other public health bodies, who will release guidance should there be an outbreak.

Air Purification And Swine Flu

Whilst it is impossible to say that an air purification system will absolutely prevent you getting swine flu, the right type of air purification technology is ideal for cleansing both the air and surfaces in a space, ensuring that viruses cannot survive for long.

Photohydroionisation (PHI) is a technology developed over 20 years ago, designed to naturally clean air on a 24/7 basis. It is this technology that is employed by the Airius PureAir series of air purification fans, and what sets them out from others.

These air purifiers use a PHI Cell, a piece of technology that emits ‘Ionised Hydroperoxides’, the naturally occurring cleaning agent responsible for the ‘clean air’ smell we enjoy after thunderstorms. The PHI disperses and circulates this air and neutralising Ionised Hydroperoxides, ensuring round-the-clock clean air.

PHI cells have been specified in the Norovirus and MRSA protection plan of American schools, hospitals, theme parks and restaurants, and they been extensively researched to understand their usefulness in other scenarios. PHI has also been tested with regards to swine flu, to this end.

Kansas State University completed preliminary testing on Photohydroionization technologies, finding 99%+ inactivation of H1N1 Swine Flu on a stainless steel surface. Further tests are still under way, to understand how it may also work on airborne droplets.

However, it is understood that the Airius PureAir series comfortably reduces viruses, bacteria and gases by up to 99% thanks to its unique purification system.

Please contact us via email at info@airius.co.uk or by phone on 01202 554 200 to see how our PureAir technology can benefit you.