The H1N1 virus has undergone a slight genetic mutation and its effect on patients has also changed. But patients are still responding to anti-viral drug Tamiflu.
“Unlike last year, swine flu patients don’t have high fever these days. Severe sore throat and backache are the most prominent symptoms now,” said Dr G.T. Ambe, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s executive health officer.
He added that Tamiflu and the vaccine are still “very effective.”
The state Directorate of Health Services had called for a meeting of experts and officials involved in tackling swine flu on Wednesday.
Dr A.C. Mishra, director of the National Institute of Virology, who attended the meeting in Mumbai, shared insights about the change in antigenicity of the virus (ability to cause production of antibodies), according to sources.
Infectious disease specialist Dr Om Srivastav has also observed changes in the clinical manifestation of swine flu. “Fever is not a predominant feature anymore,” he said.
“There is a small change in the virus. But this is not surprising. We expect it to change further,” said Dr Srivastav, who is part of the state government’s H1N1 advisory committee.
With the monsoon weather being conducive to viral transmission, doctors are concerned that the H1N1 virus could become more aggressive and infect more people.
A child tested positive for swine flu on Wednesday, taking the total number of positive cases in the last 22 days to 61. Only 33 persons had been diagnosed with swine flu between January and May.
Concerned about the “significant rise” in virus activity, the municipal corporation has decided to hold workshops to sensitise doctors who work at the Out Patient Departments at 160 dispensaries, 24 maternity homes, 16 peripheral hospitals and three medical colleges.
“We will hold the workshops this Friday onwards to fine-tune the clinical skills of these doctors and also familiarise them with the new set of symptoms,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.
The municipal corporation is also in the process of re-activating isolation wards and Intensive Care Units at six suburban hospitals.