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First swine flu case in India

delhi Updated: May 17, 2009 03:12 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
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India reported its first swine flu (H1N1) case when a 23-year-old student who flew into Hyderabad from New York tested positive late Friday.

The Hyderabad man, a student in the US, travelled with flu symptoms, including fever. He was not stopped at the New York’s JFK airport, Dubai airport, through where he transited, or by the crew of Emirates Airliner EK-524.

“The passenger had visited friends in New York, where he fell ill and travelled with flu symptoms to India via Dubai,” said Vineet Chawdhury, joint secretary, ministry of health.

A student of information technology at the University of Minnesota in the US, he arrived in Hyderabad on May 13 at 3 am.

He was found to have fever and quarantined at the Hyderabad airport, from where he was shifted to a government hospital, where he is being kept in isolation and being treated with anti-viral drug oseltamivir. He has no fever now.

“The US is not doing exit screening at its international airports, and neither did the Emirates notice symptoms, which is causing us a lot of problems,” Chawdhury said.

They were tracking and monitoring the health of the 150-odd passengers on board the Dubai-Hyderabad flight. The passengers have been advised to stay at home for seven days, said Chawdhury.

Swine flu (H1N1 flu) has now spread to 35 countries, affecting 7,521 people. Sixty-five people have died of the flu.

The Dubai government had been informed to enable it to screen the passengers who travelled on the New York-Dubai flight with him.

His family was not tested as the man was quarantined at the airport. The people who he might have come in contact with him - baggage handlers, airport officials etc, - had been tracked and didn’t show any flu symptoms, Chawdhury said.

The diagnosis was confirmed by both the bio-safety labs — Delhi’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) — designated to test influenza A H1N1 virus that causes swine flu.

“We got throat swab sample on Thursday night and he tested positive,” said Dr Shiv Lal, director general, NICD.