The number of swine flu cases in the Capital reported this year rose to 121 on Monday, prompting experts to blame the sudden surge of the figure to a winter that just doesn’t seem to end.
In contrast, only four cases of the disease were reported in the past two years in the city. But a prolonged winter has allowed the virus to spread, though it doesn’t appear to be as virulent as it was during the 2009 outbreak.
“The air is always loaded with viruses. There are certain weather changes that help the swine flu virus grow fast. I believe the rain, wind and moisture have helped the swine flu virus grow this year and that’s why we are getting so many cases,” said Dr SP Byotra, chairman, department of internal medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The hospital was one of the first that reported cases of the disease. However, doctors say that only one in 10 cases need hospitalisation.
“Mostly, the symptoms are mild. There could be a slight headache and fever and soreness in the throat that can easily be mistaken as common cold. It is only when pneumonia sets in and chest congestion does not reduce for days that people come to us,” Dr Byotra added.
Although the number of those who need hospitalisation is small, most patients require ventilator support because of difficulty in breathing.
Doctors warn not to take any flu-like symptoms lightly.
“Asthmatics, those suffering from respiratory distress syndrome or other chest complications need to be careful. Children below the age of five years and those aged over 65 years are advised caution,” said Dr AB Dey, professor, department of medicine and head, department of geriatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.