What are the risks of А(H1N1), how is different from other types of flu and what are the most effective ways of treatment? Utro.ru interviewed Irina Leneva, Doctor of Biological Sciences, to find out answers to these questions.
The ability of А(H1N1) to mutate quickly allows it to obtain new characteristics that cause epidemics, explained Irina Leneva. The virus science knows many episodes when people were infected with viruses similar to swine flu virus. One of the largest pandemics of the last century, Spanish influenza, was caused by А(Н1N1) virus. In January 1976, Fort Dix (New Jersey) conscripts were infected by a strain of influenza close to the swine flu virus in structure.
In April 2009, first cases of the new flu virus A(H1N1) were registered in Mexico and the USA. Soon, the virus moved to other continents. The new virus has some peculiar features. People over 60 suffer from the virus less than younger people do. “According to one of the theories, this is due to the fact that older people have immunity they inherited from the generation born in 1920s, who survived Spanish influenza,” explained Irina Leneva.
The appearance of new strains of swine flu is a natural evolutionary stage. Vaccination is the main strategy in the struggle with А(H1N1), like any other flu. However, no less than eight months is required to develop a new vaccine, and under the conditions of an approaching pandemic this timeframe is unacceptable. "In this case, anti-viral medications are the only means of effective struggle against the virus,” said Leneva.
Currently, Tamiflu is the most recommended medication. However, there is alarming information coming from different countries warning that the virus has developed immunity to this medication.
In Russia, Russian medication Arbidol is used to treat seasonal flu. The leading scientific institutes proved its effectiveness in regards to swine flu. "We should not be scared. The main thing is to remember how we can protect and treat ourselves,” concluded Irina Leneva.