Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Answers
Minimising risk of acquiring swine flu:
Awareness of the mode of spread of the infection is fundamental in understanding what you need to do to minimise the risk of the infection:
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Anti-viral medication for swine flu
There is no such thing as a cure for swine flu. Like all variants of this viral infection, it is a self-limited disease. The course of the disease may vary from person to person and the severity differs but each episode has a limited duration span. The aim of giving antivirals is to shorten the course of the disease, reduce severity and, in the process, reduce the chances of the patient from spreading it to others.
There are two types of anti-viral medications approved for use with swine flu. Both act against an essential viral enzyme. They are called Neuraminidase inhibitors. The two are Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) available in oral tablet form and Relenza (Zanamivir) which is inhaled. For maximum benefit, these need to be started as early as possible in the course of the infection, preferably within 48 hours of onset of symptoms.
If you are pregnant...
It is recommended that the inhalational Relenza (Zanamivir) is used if you are pregnant. Since respiratory complications are the most feared, the logic is that it will be delivered directly to where it is required most. In addition, this method of delivery of the drug minimises the amount that gets into the circulation and therefore to the baby. Pregnancy has been classified as a potential risk state for swine flu (see previous page). It is also important to be aware of the limited effect of any anti-viral medication. It is not a cure.
Because severe systemic disease increases the risk of spontaneous miscarriage and preterm labour with all the potential consequences of this, the recommendation is for active management of confirmed or strongly suspected disease. Medication needs to be taken for 5 days.
If a pregnant woman has been in close contact with a confirmed case of swine flu, chemoprophylaxis (preventative medication) could be considered especially if she has other risk factors mentioned above. If preventative medication is taken, the course should last 10 days.
Swine flu and new mothers
It is an established fact that breastfeeding protects against respiratory diseases for newborns and infants. Bottle-fed babies are at a significantly higher risk of these conditions and that would include swine flu. At this time of the pandemic, this is another reason for mothers to consider breast-feeding, among other things, as a proven preventative measure for the baby. If you happen to acquire the infection and you are breastfeeding, there is no need to stop. You can breast-feed whilst taking the antiviral drugs.
Vaccination against swine flu
There is a number of swine flu vaccines. The vaccines have been available since late October 2009. In many countries including the UK, administration of the vaccine started with those identified to be ‘at risk’ groups. These include: