4 cases of H1NI surfaced in 1 week as mercury dipped
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.”