Shalini, a 48-year-old woman from Ujjain district, died because of swine flu on February 10, 2013 at a private hospital in Indore. Her swab sample was sent to Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (RMRCT), Jabalpur on February 10 and her report came a couple of days after her death. The report confirmed that she was suffering from swine flu.
Anil Hole, a 37-year-old man from Saket Nagar in Bhopal, had succumbed to swine flu on March 27, 2012. He was admitted with severe cold and lung congestion to private Career Hospital on March 25. However, when his condition deteriorated, he was moved to another private hospital on March 27 where he died in the afternoon.
His report on swine flu infection was received at the office of chief medical and health officer (CMHO) from Jabalpur that evening, confirming that he was suffering from swine flu.
These examples prove that nothing has changed in the past one year as far as diagnosis and treatment of swine flu is concerned. The deadly menace is back and state health department is once again assuring people not to panic in the event they fall prey to the disease.
As the number of swine flu patients start going up, reports regarding swabs sent for testing to two laboratories in the state (at Jabalpur and Gwalior respectively), where the test is carried out start getting stuck and several swine flu patients die even before it can be diagnosed that they were suffering from the disease.
In normal circumstances, swabs are sent for testing only after a patient reaches the third stage and is put on ventilator. In fact, in 2012, the Jabalpur lab had to remind the district health officials to send swabs of only those patients who have been in the hospital for less than five days so that infection could be diagnosed properly. The lab officials argued that after five days, the density of virus in the swab starts receding and it becomes difficult to diagnose the disease.
The guidelines of health department also say that only swab samples of patients under “C” category (patient showing symptoms like chest pain, high fever, blue nails, spitting blood with cough) should be sent to laboratory for testing.
Too many swab samples and just two laboratories for testing is one major reason why doctors delay sending a sample till the patient becomes very critical but there has not been any initiative on the part of state health department to start this facility at one or two more laboratories. Health department had proposed to use Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) lab in Bhopal for the purpose but BMHRC management didn’t agree to the proposal and the idea was abandoned.
Establishment of a virology laboratory in Gandhi Medical College (GMC) is under process but it would take substantially long time before the lab starts functioning. Head of microbiology department, Gandhi Medical College, Dr Deepak Dubey said the process of constructing virology lab is under process. He said it would take around two years before the laboratory becomes fully operational.
When contacted, principal secretary health Praveer Krishna said at present there is no plan to start a new laboratory for swine flu testing in the state.