With 95 swine flu deaths reported in four north Indian states since January, city doctors have advised caution against the H1N1 infection but say there is no need to panic.
The state health department has not issued any fresh advisories to handle H1N1 cases. “All the hospitals in the state are well-equipped to handle H1N1 cases,” said a senior health official.
The Brihanmumbai Muni-cipal Corporation (BMC), which monitors flu outbreaks, has recorded only one case of H1N1 in January. “There are no suspected cases as of now,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, chief epidemiologist, BMC.
Doctors said the absence of cases in the city could be a result of what is called ‘herd immunity’. This immunity is acquired by Mumbaiites as a majority of the population has been exposed to the virus since 2009.
“If the person is exposed to the virus earlier, chances of getting the infection are less. The H1N1 virus is like any other influenza and is commonly found in the environment,” said Dr Abhay Choudhary, director, Haffkine Institute, Parel.
Experts said travellers from north India could spread the virus and cause sporadic cases in the city. A few days ago, a Delhi resident travelling to Malaysia tested positive at a city hospital and was put on Tamiflu.
“The virus does not survive in very low temperatures. However, humid weather and temperatures between 10 and 12 degrees Celsius are conducive for the transmission of the virus,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease specialist, Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road.
Doctors said patients who have low immunity, senior citizens, diabetics and pregnant women should be alert and visit a doctor in case of H1N1 symptoms such as running nose, sore throat and cold. “People in the high-risk category are susceptible to the virus,” said Dr Shrivastav.
“Usually, we see cases of H1N1 during the winter, from December to February,” added Dr Choudhary.