4 cases of H1NI sur­faced in 1 week as mer­cury dipped

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Su­mi­tra.De­bRoy @times­group.com State Ma­ha­rash­tra Cases Deaths

Mum­bai: As an­tic­i­pated by doc­tors, a dip in tem­per­a­tures brought in cases of in­fluenza (A) H1N1. The BMC’s epi­demi­ol­ogy depart­ment said that four con­firmed cases of H1N1 were de­tected in one week. Across the state, nearly 200 cases and 13 deaths have been re­ported since Jan­uary.

Physi­cians said peo­ple, es­pe­cially preg­nant women and those with un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tions such as blood pres­sure and hy­per­ten­sion, must ex­er­cise cau­tion as the virus is known to thrive in cold tem­per­a­tures. “We must stay pre­pared for a spurt,” said state epi­demi­ol­o­gist Dr Pradeep Awate. “States in north­ern and cen­tral In­dia that are reel­ing un­der an out­break of the virus are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme winter,” he said. Ra­jasthan and Gu­jarat are among the worst hit, with 85 and 43 deaths.

A civic of­fi­cial said Mum­bai’s cases are the first lot of lab-con­firmed one to be re­ported this year. “We have ad­e­quate stocks of the an­tivi­ral drug os­eltamivir,” he said. Last year, while the virus claimed nearly 400 lives across 15 dis­tricts of Ma­ha­rash­tra, Mum­bai es­caped an out­break, record­ing 25 cases and no deaths. Mum­bai sees H1N1 spurts in al­ter­nate years.

In­fec­tious dis­eases ex­pert Dr Om Sri­vas­tava said those with weak im­mune sys­tems must stay vig­i­lant as cool air and low hu­mid­ity in­creases the trans­mis­sion of the in­fluenza virus. A decade-old study THE DIS­EASE

A type of sea­sonal flu, in­fluenza A (H1N1) is caused byres­pi­ra­tory virus that was pre­vi­ously found in pigs Over time, the virus mu­tated and in­fected hu­mans PEO­PLE AT HIGHER RISK

Preg­nant women, in­fants, the el­derly, im­mune de­fi­cient peo­ple, per­sons on long-term med­i­ca­tion H1N1 IN REST OF IN­DIA Ra­jasthan Gu­jarat Pun­jab J&K Hi­machal Pradesh by the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Child Health and Hu­man Devel­op­ment, US, had high­lighted the same: It found that dur­ing winter, the virus’s outer en­ve­lope hard­ened to as­sume the form of a gel that safe­guarded the virus as it trav­elled; the shield was ren­dered weak in sum­mer.

Dr Awate said a ma­jor­ity of deaths have been found in the 40-60 age-group this year, a trend that was true last year as well. Of the 13 deaths in the state since Jan­uary, around six had co­mor­bid con­di­tions. “We are vac­ci­nat­ing preg­nant women and those with un­der­ly­ing ail­ments. The gov­ern­ment has not in­cluded se­nior cit­i­zens in the high-risk group for vac­ci­na­tion, though it is ad­vis­able that they too get in­fluenza shots,” he said.

Sev­eral city doc­tors said pa­tients had started pre­sent­ing with clas­si­cal symp­toms of H1N1 since Jan­uary. Dr He­mant Thacker said the num­bers are un­der-re­ported in Mum­bai as most pa­tients can’t get tested ow­ing to the ex­or­bi­tant rates in pri­vate labs. “We need better sur­veil­lance to de­tect cases early and treat them,” he said. But Awate said test­ing should be only for pa­tients who are hos­pi­talised. “Oth­ers should be started on treat­ment if clin­i­cal symp­toms point to­wards H1N1.”

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