Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu

There is a new disease affecting humans, which could lead to death. This disease/virus/illness is the SWINE FLU! As the name connotes, it is mainly found in pigs.

Swine flu is a type A influenza virus. Although this virus is not common in humans, but there is a high risk of infection for people working and living with pigs. In other words, Swine flu is usually diagnosed only in pigs or people in regular contact with them.

The swine flu was first reported in Mexico and several people have been reported dead while so many people are ill. As at last night, more than 1,000 people were reported ill in Mexico as a result of the Swine Flu.

The symptoms of Swine Flu are, just like the common flu in humans. These symptoms are fever, cold, cough, sore throat, aching limbs and headaches. Pneumonia and respiratory failure can occur leading to death.

There has been no report on the spread to Africa (yet).  However, in order to minimize the spread of the Swine Flu into Africa ALL Countries should screen EVERYBODY coming into their territory.

In his words, the acting Director of the CDC, Richard Besser said, “We do not know whether this swine flu virus or some other influenza virus will lead to the next pandemic.”

People at risk should cover their mouth when they cough. They should regularly wash their hands with an alcohol-based cleaner and and avoid close contact with the sick. Patients with the disease should stay at home to minimise the spread. Although there is no need to avoid eating pork, I suggest that if you must eat pork, then make sure it is well cooked! 

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. 

More information here. And here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

World Malaria Day

Today is Malaria Day. This a day set aside for recognizing the global effort to provide an effective control of malaria.

The theme of this year's World Malaria Day is "Counting Malaria Out". By the end of the year 2010, it is expected that people living in malaria infested regions would have access to effective and affordable treatment for malaria.

Statistically, there are 109 countries infested with malaria today. Most of these countries are in the sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these Countries have initiated steps to roll back Malaria in the region. In Nigeria, most States distribute mosquito treated nets to people. However, only Zambia has been able to reach the Roll Back Malaria target of more than 50% reduction of mortality from malaria compared to 2000.

It is expected that other African countries would take a cue from Zambia and work towards eliminating malaria in Africa.

Malaria is indeed a killer sickness as it kills more than one million people per year. The most hit are pregnant women and children under the age of five.

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. This parasite is transmitted into a human body through the bites of mosquitoes infected by the parasite. As soon as the parasites are transmitted into the human body, it multiplies in the liver, and thereafter infect the red blood cells.

When an individual has been infected with the malaria parasite, some of the symptoms such a person will notice include headache, fever and vomiting. Once these symptoms appear, the infected individual should see a medical doctor for appropriate treatment. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines. Therefore, no one should administer any self medication.

Prevention is better than cure.

Malaria, like most ailments, can be prevented or controlled.
Some of the suggested preventive/control measures are:
1. Keeping the environment clean. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, so as a preventive measure, all drainages must always be clean.
2. Use a bed net (popularly known as mosquito net) preferably the treated nets.
3. Spray apartments with insecticide at least twice a week.
4. Get proper treatment when diagnosed with malaria

Africa can be malaria free!
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