Even as Delhi grapples with dengue crisis, health experts have warned citizens may next be confronted with the deadly swine flu that is likely to hit the national capital with a change of season.
The swine flu carrier, the H1N1 influenza virus, is prone to appear when temperatures dip and inter arrives. The issue is the disease spreads through air and not via a vector, as in dengue, and thus transmission is more rapid.
"Elderly people, diabetics, those with kidney problems, cancer patients and pregnant women are at risk and thus should take precautions," said Dr JC Suri, professor and head of pulmonary medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
A senior doctor at AIIMS said hospitals in the city last year faced infrastructural issues in handling the large number of swine flu cases and stressed on the need for public awareness to check the spread of the infection.
"There was a rush of people at OPDs to be tested for swine flu, and many of them testing positive had to be admitted at the isolation wards. There was a time, when there was shortage of space..."
"So awareness about the cautions people can take at their level can play a vital role in checking the spread of the disease," the doctor said.
Health department officials said they have already started preparatory work to deal with any emergency arising out of H1N1.
"This is the dengue season. Next in line is swine flu in winter. However, we have already started stocking up on drugs, diagnostic kits and other equipment required to combat the disease," Dr Charan Singh, additional director in-charge of public health, said.
Swine flu had assumed epidemic proportions last year, affecting more than 4,259 people and claiming 12 lives in the city.