A day after swine flu took its first victim in Punjab this season in Sarabjit Kaur (55), the fear is alive in the city that received another suspected case, a Malikpur villager, 45, who was admitted to a private hospital.
The health department has sent his throat and nasal swabs for testing, though the man had improved on Wednesday. "He has cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue," said district epidemiologist Dr Raju Chauhan, adding: "He is a likely case of pneumonia, though swine flu cannot be ruled out, as both diseases have common symptoms."
As a precaution, the health department has surveyed Batala Road's Sandhu Colony, where Sarabjit Kaur lived; and Malikpur, from where the fresh suspected case is reported. "Our teams have visited 300 houses in Sandhu Colony and found no suspected or positive case there," said the district epidemiologist.
Guarding against dengue, malaria
The swine flu death has brought the lowered guard against summer diseases dengue and malaria up again. "It is not the season of dengue and malaria, yet all the same, we have fogged various localities for safety," said Dr Chauhan. "Special teams at the civil hospital isolation wards are ready to treat the cases of swine flu," deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said on Wednesday, adding: "The squads have special kits and updated stock of Tamiflu medicine. The administration has requested people to avoid contact with suspected patients.
History of H1N1
In pigs for decades since the 1918 pandemic, but evolved into a mild form
Outbreak in people in 1976 in New Jersey, US, killed one
By 1988, 'triple reassortant' version appears, included bird, human as well as swine (pig) variant genes
Rapid evolution since then has led to the present version
What makes it dangerous
It is five parts swine (pig), two parts bird, and one part human, which makes surface proteins that human antibodies (body's disease fighting mechanism) won't recognise, even as the two-part bird gene makes the spread easy.