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Swine flu over-hyped: City docs

Mumbai MAY have got its first case of swine flu on Friday but there’s no need to panic. Doctors said the Influenza A/H1N1 virus is curable and is very mild in most cases.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2009 01:15 IST
Neha Bhayana

Mumbai MAY have got its first case of swine flu on Friday but there’s no need to panic.

Doctors said the Influenza A/H1N1 virus is curable and is very mild in most cases. Moreover, the virus cannot proliferate rapidly in the city’s hot weather.

“A five-day treatment with Tamiflu completely cures one of H1N1,” said Dr Hemant Thacker, consultant physician with Jaslok Hospital. “It causes death only in infants and elderly, who have low immunity.”

A section of health experts across the world have been debating whether the World Health Organisation (WHO) was justified in raising H1N1 alert to pandemic level.

Australian infectious disease expert Professor John Macke-nzie has been quoted saying the flu has been “over-hyped”. City health experts agree.

“There has been a hyper-reaction and a sensation has been created because the WHO has declared it pandemic,” said Dr Thacker.

Dr Sanjay Oak, director of medical education and KEM Hospital dean, said: “H1NI is not a threat. I think people are just being overcautious because it is an unknown danger.”

The doctors felt that infectious diseases, like tuberculosis (TB), were a much bigger hazard in India.

The H1N1 virus is known to have a very low fatality rate — less than 0.1 per cent — while severe forms of TB can kill up to 20 per cent of infected patients. “Of the 90,000 deaths in Mumbai last year, 8,000 were caused by TB,” said BMC executive health officer Jairaj Thanekar. About 2.5 lakh people in Mumbai suffer from TB.

State health secretary Sharvari Gokhale, however, felt the concern over H1N1 is justified. “We don’t know how it will behave, so we have to be very alert,” she said.