Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Prevention

Prevention of swine influenza has three components: prevention in swine, prevention of transmission to humans, and prevention of its spread among humans.

Experts agree that hand-washing can help prevent viral infections, a surprisingly effective way to prevent all sorts of diseases, including ordinary influenza and the new and mysterious swine flu virus. Influenza can spread in coughs or sneezes, but an increasing body of evidence shows little particles of virus can linger on tabletops, telephones and other surfaces and be transferred via the fingers to the mouth, nose or eyes. Alcohol-based gel or foam hand sanitizers work well to destroy viruses and bacteria. Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, cough or muscle aches should stay away from work or public transportation and should see a doctor to be tested.

Social distancing is another tactic. It means staying away from other people who might be infected and can include avoiding large gatherings, spreading out a little at work, or perhaps staying home and lying low if an infection is spreading in a community.


Prevention in swine

Swine influenza has become a greater problem in recent decades as the evolution of the virus has resulted in inconsistent responses to traditional vaccines. Standard commercial swine flu vaccines are effective in controlling the infection when the virus strains match enough to have significant cross-protection, and custom (autogenous) vaccines made from the specific viruses isolated are created and used in the more difficult cases.

Present vaccination strategies for SIV control and prevention in swine farms, typically include the use of one of several bivalent SIV vaccines commercially available in the United States. Of the 97 recent H3N2 isolates examined, only 41 isolates had strong serologic cross-reactions with antiserum to three commercial SIV vaccines. Since the protective ability of influenza vaccines depends primarily on the closeness of the match between the vaccine virus and the epidemic virus, the presence of nonreactive H3N2 SIV variants suggests that current commercial vaccines might not effectively protect pigs from infection with a majority of H3N2 viruses.

Prevention of spread in humans

Recommendations to prevent spread of the virus among humans include using standard infection control against influenza. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public. Vaccines against the H1N1 strain in the 2009 human outbreak are being developed and could be ready as early as June 2009.

Treatment

The CDC recommends the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses. The virus isolates that have been tested from the US and Mexico are however resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. If a person gets sick, antiviral drugs can make the illness milder and make the patient feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

Preparedness

To maintain a secure household during a pandemic flu, the Water Quality & Health Council recommends keeping as supplies food and bottled water, portable power sources and chlorine bleach as an emergency water purifier and surface sanitizer.

Swine Flu Signs and symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in humans the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A few more patients than usual have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Because these symptoms are not specific to swine flu, a differential diagnosis of probable swine flu requires not only symptoms but also a high likelihood of swine flu due to the person's recent history. For example, during the 2009 swine flu outbreak in the United States, CDC advised physicians to "consider swine influenza infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute febrile respiratory illness who have either been in contact with persons with confirmed swine flu, or who were in one of the five U.S. states that have reported swine flu cases or in Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset."[16] A diagnosis of confirmed swine flu requires laboratory testing of a respiratory sample (a simple nose and throat swab).

Swine Flu

Swine influenza (also swine flu) refers to influenza caused by any strain of the influenza virus that is endemic in pigs (swine). Strains endemic in swine are called swine influenza virus (SIV). Of the three genera of Orthomyxoviridae that are endemic in humans, two are endemic also in swine: Influenzavirus A (common) or Influenzavirus C (rare). Influenzavirus B has not been reported in swine. Within Influenzavirus A and Influenzavirus C, the strains endemic to swine and humans are largely distinct.

People who work with poultry and swine, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of infection with influenza from these animals if the animals carry a strain that is also able to infect humans. SIV can mutate into a form that allows it to pass from human to human. The strain responsible for the 2009 swine flu outbreak is believed to have undergone such a mutation.

In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general. In most cases, the strain responsible for the 2009 swine flu outbreak causes only mild symptoms.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog, colloquially known as a Portie, is a water spaniel breed of gun dog. Portuguese Water Dogs once existed all along Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the cold Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod to bring home.

In Portugal, the breed is called Cão d'Água (pronounced Kown-d'Ahgwa; literally "water dog"). In its native land, the dog is also known as the Portuguese Fishing Dog (Cão Pescador Português). Cão de Água de Pêlo Ondulado is the name given the wavy-haired variety, and Cão de Água de Pêlo Encaracolado is the name for the curly-coated variety.

The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed; only 15 entrants for Portuguese Water Dogs were made to England's Crufts competition in 2002. Though some breeders claim they are a hypoallergenic dog breed, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim . However, their non-shedding qualities have made them more popular in recent years.