Two more swine flu deaths, but experts say virus weak this time

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 10, 2015 02:40 IST

The capital has so far recorded five deaths and 41 cases of swine flu since December last year, raising fears of an epidemic. The most recent death was that of a 38-year-old woman on Thursday.

In January alone, Delhi reported 36 cases and four deaths.

Gurgaon too reported its first swine flu death on Friday. The patient, a 40-year-old male, was admitted in Medanta—the Medicity. The presence of the H1N1 virus was confirmed after his death.

The H1N1 virus infected millions and killed 18,097 people worldwide in 2009, shows World Health Organisation data, but experts say the virus is weak this year and is like the seasonal flu that routinely infects people.

Most people who get swine flu recover within a few days, but people with asthma, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, for example, face the risk of complications.

These people with respiratory distress — breathlessness, difficulty in breathing, chest congestion etc — need to be closely monitored since about one in four may need hospitalisation. Symptoms in other cases can be managed at home.

“There is no need to worry as the H1N1 virus strain circulating is not a virulent (deadly) one and is behaving like any other seasonal flu, which is self-limiting. The situation is not as worrisome as it was in 2009 and most patients are recovering within five to seven days without treatment,”said Dr Charan Singh, Delhi government’s nodal officer for swine flu.

The sudden increase in the number of cases over the past two weeks is because of the sudden drop in temperature, and the numbers are expected to go down once the fog clears out and it gets warmer.

“Routine screening has been stopped as most people, even those who did not develop symptoms, have antibodies against the virus. Over the winter of 2013-14, there were about 1,000 cases but the numbers are far less this year. However, everyone must take precautions,” he added.

The swine flu symptoms are the same as ordinary flu -- fever, cough, sore throat, body ache and fever - with some people reporting nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and rashes.

People should be hygienic to prevent swine fly. People must maintain a distance of at least three feet from the person who is coughing and sneezing.

Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing and sneezing is a start. If you don’t have a tissue handy, cough and sneeze into your upper sleeves or hands and wash them immediately with soap and water. For people with compromised immunity because of other health problems, vaccinating against H1N1 is an option. The vaccine is also available as a spray and is indigenously manufactured.

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