Swine Flu (H1N1) in Babies


Swine Flu is a seasonal infection caused by the H1N1 virus, which was initially found in pigs. Children, pregnant women, and elderly people are usually more prone to this virus. This article aims to equip you with all the necessary information about the virus, enabling you to take the right precaution at the right time.

Video: Swine Flu H1N1 in Babies

What is Swine Flu (H1N1)?

Swine Flu (H1N1) is a type of virus which is similar to the flu virus that affects pigs. There was a swine flu pandemic in 2009 with the H1N1 virus spreading like wild fire from one person to another across many countries around the world.

The World Health Organisation had then announced that the virus would be under control by 2010, but this did not stay true for too long.

Common Symptoms of H1N1 in Babies

Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus and can have adverse effects in babies. This virus affects the respiratory tract and causes serious health complexities. Hence, recognising the right swine flu symptoms in children and adults alike, at the right time, is important. If your baby is suffering from prolonged fever and experiencing chills, then you need to take precautionary steps. This could be an early symptom of swine flu, and you must consult a doctor immediately.

The most common symptoms of H1N1 are:

  • Very high fever
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain

In some cases, especially in cases of young babies, the symptoms include the following:

Swine flu is a potentially fatal virus. If you observe the above-mentioned swine flu symptoms in babies, make sure you consult a paediatrician without delay.

What are the Causes of Swine Flu in Babies and Toddlers?

The causes of swine flu are the same as any other flu. It gets transmitted when you come in contact with someone who is already infected by the virus. Since babies and children are not very mindful of their surroundings, they are more prone to contract the disease than adults.

  • When an H1N1 infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus gets suspended in the air. This way the virus can infect anyone who is close by
  • The virus, once suspended in the air, can also settle down on any object and can stay alive for 24 hours. If children touch these contaminated objects and place them near their mouth or nose, then they will get infected by H1N1
  • Also, if a person suffering from swine flu coughs or sneezes in his hands and touches others around him without washing his hands, then he infects others with the virus too

Coming in direct contact with an infected pig may increase chances of catching the virus.

When Should You Call for Immediate Care?

Children with a weak immune system and chronic health issues like diabetes, asthma and obesity catch this flu virus more easily than others. If your baby has a high fever and is sleepy, or does not want to interact and has stopped drinking any fluid, it is advisable to get him medically screened for swine flu.

If the baby displays any of the following symptoms, immediate attention may be needed:

  • Has seizures
  • Can’t wake up
  • Is short of breath
  • Skin is turning bluish
  • Is complaining of chest pain

How H1N1 flu is diagnosed

You may be wondering now, ‘What are the tests to diagnose swine flu?’ Well, diagnosis of H1N1 flu is usually made by sampling fluid from the patient’s body. To take the sample, your doctor may swab your nose or throat and send the sample to the lab for genetic analysis to help identify the exact type of virus.

Treatment for H1N1 Swine Flu

There is no definite cure for swine flu. Swine flu treatment for babies starts like any other cold or flu treatment where the focus is on easing the symptoms. Hence, medication is given to bring the fever down and to ease the symptoms. Antivirals are only given if the symptoms don’t go away even after 5 days of medication and also if the symptoms become severe or the child is admitted to the hospital.

Children suffering from H1N1 flu should be kept at home for seven days and require a lot of rest. They need to take in a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration. They should be encouraged to eat small meals whenever they feel like and should drink only cooled, boiled water.

Infant Paracetamol can be given on the doctor’s advice to bring down fever. Keeping the child cool by sponging the head and arms can also help in bringing down the temperature. It helps to be in constant touch with the doctor to report your child’s progress.

Swine Flu Vaccine

There are different types of swine flu vaccine for babies available in the market. However, the flu vaccine cannot be given to babies younger than six months. It is recommended to have a discussion with your doctor on getting vaccinated for swine flu during pregnancy in order to protect your baby for the first six months after birth.

Vaccines like Vaxigrip and Influvac are prescribed for children below five years. Fluvax is another vaccine available in the market which is only prescribed for children above 9 years old as it has severe side effects in younger children. It is important to consult a doctor before vaccinating your child against swine flu.

A seasonal flu vaccination is also available in the market which is recommended for people with weak immunity, chronic respiratory conditions, and pregnant women.

How to Prevent Swine Flu in Babies?

Swine flu in babies can be prevented by following a few measures religiously.

  1. Since H1N1 virus easily spreads from one person to another, it is important that you keep your baby away from an infected person
  2. Always wash your hands before holding your baby, especially if you have just returned from work or the market. The germs carrying H1N1 get easily transmitted through contact
  3. Whenever you cough or sneeze, always cover your mouth. It prevents any flu virus from spreading

If your baby is diagnosed with H1N1, make sure that you keep them indoors and administer the prescribed medicines on time. This will prevent the virus from spreading to other children.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. How is swine flu transmitted and is it contagious?

Yes, swine flu is contagious and spreads from one person to another either by inhaling the infected droplets suspended in the air while coughing or sneezing or by touching an object contaminated by the virus.

2. How long would swine flu last in babies?

Swine flu works like any other flu and takes the same time to get cured. Swine flu fever lasts for 2 to 3 days with symptoms like a runny nose for 1 to 2 weeks and cough for 2 to 3 weeks. In some cases, swine flu fever may stay for almost 4 to 5 days.

3. Are there specific doctors who treat swine flu?

For babies, you need to consult their paediatrician in case of any flu. All general physicians can treat swine flu. There are no specific doctors for treating this condition unless a comprehensive probing is required to treat different symptoms. In such cases, your child’s doctor will refer you to the right specialist.

4. What are the risk factors associated with swine flu?

The risk factors of getting swine flu are like any other flu. Anyone who comes in contact with an infected person or spends time in an area with a good number of infected people may easily get the virus. The following people are at a higher risk factor than others:

  • Adults over 65 years
  • Children below 5 years
  • People with weak immune system
  • People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease

5. Are there home remedies to cure swine flu in my baby?

Yes, there are a few home remedies that can help you to treat or prevent any flu virus in your baby including swine flu. These measures can be adopted just before and during the rainy season to prevent or treat flu viruses.

  1. Eating 5 basil leaves every day in the morning keeps throat and lungs clear and improves immunity
  2. Boil 1-foot long giloi (Tinospora cordifolia) with basil leaves, strain the juice, add some rock sugar and pepper and drink this to treat any flu
  3. Make your baby drink a cup of warm milk with turmeric to prevent any sort of flu
  4. If your baby can eat garlic, then chewing 2 pods of garlic every morning on an empty stomach is a good idea for better immunity from the flu
  5. To get rid of body ache during the flu, mix a teaspoon of aloe vera gel with water and give it to your baby every day

Please consult your doctor before opting for any home remedies as it may not be suitable for all body types.

Swine flu is a highly contagious infection that can affect your baby and cause a lot of distress. Keep the above signs, precautions and remedies in mind to protect your baby.