Why are People Wearing Face Masks for Swine Flu?

Swine flu is one of those pandemics that have created a lot of terror in the minds of the people around the world. The pictures of people wearing face masks to protect themselves from this influenza variant have become so common that newspapers do not carry them anymore. But the pandemic that was scary during 2009-2010 is in the post pandemic stage now and only sporadic incidents of people getting afflicted with this virus called H1N1 are taking place in different parts of the world. However, inside the country, the activity of this influenza virus is still high warranting precaution and action such as taking a shot of the vaccine specially developed for this disease.

 

Face masks are no solution to the problem of swine flu

The face masks, also called surgical masks that sell at $10 for 30-50 pieces are worn across the nose and mouth with a strap that is tied behind the head. While they can certainly prevent droplets spread by a person sneezing or coughing, it is worth debating if these masks can erase all chances of catching swine flu. For miniscule particles that spread in air and are invisible for the naked eye, better options are respirators but they are not very practical. In fact, not a single disposable face mask has yet been evaluated and certified by FDA to prove effective against swine flu. However, there is this emotional value of face masks that helps in their bumper sale throughout the world, especially those parts of the world that do not have the excellent conditions of health and sanitation. Experts say that there is no harm in wearing face masks but people wearing these masks should not forget to observe other safety precautions to make sure they remain protected from swine flu and other similar influenza variants. Wearing a face mask may be effective in case you have to come in close contact with an infected person.

 

It is not the swine flu that affects human beings

There is this ability of viruses to keep mutating and even if 99% of mutated viruses are useless, a few get a chance to survive and replicate to develop into a new strain of virus for which people do not have any immunity. Human body has this ability to develop antibodies against a virus once it has been infected by a virus. So a person who catches an infection of any new influenza develops a level of immunity against the virus. Though swine flu was a virus that needed to jump off pigs to infect humans and it was rare, the mutated version H1N1 had the ability to spread from person to person and is therefore contagious.

 

H1N1 it is that spreads easily through touch and sneezing

Like all other flus, the spread of H1N1 is quite easy and it can infect a person when he comes in proximity of the infected person who either sneezes or coughs. In some cases, people have become infected with h1N1 virus even when they have had no contact with an infected person. They touched an object or surface with the flu virus and then with the same hand touched their nose or mouth.

 

Symptoms similar to common cold make diagnosis difficult

Diagnosis through rapid flu tests has been found to be erratic giving false positives many times. Thus many a times patients have suffered from H1N1 but have received the treatment for just seasonal flu while there have also been instances where patients have been wrongly diagnosed as suffering from H1N1 despite having been afflicted with human influenza virus.

 

The thing to remember with swine flu is that it is a disease of the pigs and only pigs are afflicted with this type of flu. It rarely infects human beings as it is difficult for the virus to jump off pigs to infect human beings. This is why the sporadic incidents where pigs have caused swine flu in human beings belong to places like pig farms and poultries where people are deputed to take care of pigs. However, little bit of tweaking (and this tweaking is all natural as if genetic alterations take place) and new strain of virus takes shape. This virus is better and stronger and has the capability to afflict human beings. The virus becomes contagious and now spreads among human beings. It is easy to understand that it is not swine flu but its mutated form that was labeled as 2009 H1N1 by CDC that infects human beings.