Should those without swine flu signs be tested? Experts divided
Mulund resident, Mohan Rawale (name changed), tested positive for swine flu on Sunday at the Super Religare Laboratories (SRL). Rawale, whose six-year-old son and mother had earlier tested positive for the virus, showed none of the symptoms of having contracted the virus.mumbai Updated: Mar 28, 2012 01:42 IST
Mulund resident, Mohan Rawale (name changed), tested positive for swine flu on Sunday at the Super Religare Laboratories (SRL). Rawale, whose six-year-old son and mother had earlier tested positive for the virus, showed none of the symptoms of having contracted the virus.
When civic officials met Rawale during their surveillance rounds in the area, they did not take his throat swab for testing. Yet, Rawale got himself tested for the H1N1 virus and is now being treated with Tamiflu, confirmed civic authorities.
Infectious diseases experts are divided on whether people, who do not show obvious symptoms such as high fever, cold and cough, should be tested for the virus. “Some people, who are infected with the virus, may not show any symptoms. However, they could infect others. This is called sub-clinical infection,” said Dr Abhay Chaudhary, director of Haffkine Institute, Parel, one of the accredited testing centres for the H1N1 virus.
He added that only people in the high risk group, such as the elderly, children, pregnant women or suffering from diabetes or cancer, need to be tested for the virus if they are in contact with a swine flu patient.
According to World Health Organisation guidelines, people suffering from fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and persistent cold and cough should be tested for the H1N1 virus.
Dr Om Shrivastava, infectious diseases expert and member of the state advisory committee for swine flu, said that it makes sense to take the test for the virus as it could be life-saving. “If the person is in close proximity to high-risk patients or people who are in therapy, it makes sense to test for the virus. The person could infect others, even if he is unaffected himself,” said Dr Shrivastava.
He clarified that infected persons, who do not show symptoms of the disease, need not be treated with Tamiflu.
“People should not take Tamiflu indiscriminately. The virus could mutate and develop resistance to the medication,” warned Dr Chaudhary.
Dr Shrivastava said that about 25 per cent of patients, who may have contracted the virus, get cured without swine flu medication. “These people could have a runny nose, pain in the body, lethargy for about three to four days that could disappear on its own,” he said.