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BMC worried over swine flu virus mutation

Though the city witnessed no swine flu deaths in October, BMC health officials are worried that the H1N1 virus may have undergone mutation, reports Naziya Alvi.

mumbai Updated: Oct 31, 2009 01:10 IST
Naziya Alvi

Though the city witnessed no swine flu deaths in October, BMC health officials are worried that the H1N1 virus may have undergone mutation.

Civic officials will be meeting medical experts at Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) in the coming week.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health), Manisha Mhaiskar, confirmed the civic body’s decision to hold a meeting with NIV experts. “ Yes, our doctors will discuss the possibility of the swine flu virus undergoing a mutation,” said Mhaiskar.

Despite a drastic fall in the number of suspected swine flu patients testing positive for H1N1, what has got health officials worried is the fact that two patients, who died after showing all the classic symptoms of swine flu, tested negative for the H1N1 virus. “This may suggest that the H1N1 virus may have mutated and is resultantly leading to different symptoms in affected persons,” said a senior health officer, who requested anonymity.

Medical experts, however, said that the BMC’s concern maybe misplaced as chance of a significant mutation in the H1N1 virus in such a short span is unlikely.

“This virus is known to mutate but the process is very slow, it may happen over a season but not within a few months,” said Dr Abhay Chaudhary, director of the Haffkine Institute for Research at Parel.