Swine Flu, Tami Flu and Star Anise

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World is scared of Swine flu, as the disease has taken hundreds of lives in Mexico, Canada, America, Britain, New Zea land, France and in other parts of the world. Still the virus is the major concern for the government worldwide. Regarding the grim situation various health organisations  and governments have issued various guidelines and preventive measures to stop it being a pandemic. Swine flu is a respiratory illness of pigs that is caused by type A influenza virus H1N1.Generally their infections are confined to pigs only but some times these viruses spread to human beings also, particularly to those who work in piggeries or come in direct contact to an infected swine. H1N1 or Swine flu viruses are highly contagious and can spread easily from human to human. Although this is not the very first outbreak of Swine influenza(also in 1918, 1930, 1997-2002) what is more panic and worrying about the current flu, is that the scientists have identified H1N1virus as a genetic mix of swine, human and avian flu strains that may be able to defy the traditional drug treatments. Symptoms of infection- Symptoms of Swine flu infections are very similar to the other type of flu infections, although gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting are dominant in case of the infection of current strain (AN1H1). Other symptoms that are much similar to seasonal flu include fever, cough, soar throat, stuffy nose, headache, body ache, fatigue, chills etc.

Prevention and cure-Although there is no particular single vaccine for this flu available so far, doctors have found “Tami flu” (anti flu drug) most effective in current cases of infection.

Star Anise in news–  Recently amidst the scare of  Swine flu, Chinese Star Anise, a traditional tasty spice has hit the news due to one of its ingredients Shikmic Acid, which is a primary feedback used to prepare the anti- flu drug Tami flu. Star Anise is a star shaped, reddish brown fruit consisting 6 to 8 boat shaped hard wrinkled carpels. It is obtained from a small native ever green tree Illicium Vernum of the family of Illiciaceae. As the plant grows only in a specific climate, its commercial production is limited to China and Vietnam. In India it is produced in Arunachal Pradesh on a very small scale.

Uses– Star Anise is mostly used as a spice to flavor vegetable, meats and pickles. Due to its fragrance, it is also used in perfumery and its essential oil is used to flavor soft drinks, beverages and bakery products. In India, it is used as a major component in preparing Garam Masala (a mixture of a number of spices). Star Anise is known by its various names in different parts of India- Anasphal (Hindi), Takkolam (Malyalam), Badian (Marathi), Anashuppu (Tamil), Anaspuvu (Telugu) etc.  Star Anise has medicinal properties also. So the fruit is considered anti-bacterial, diuretic, stoma chic. It works well as a remedy for rheumatism and some times chewed after meal to enhance the digestion. In China, Star Anise has been used traditionally as a powerful remedy for cough- cold and other viral diseases.

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