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Swine flu paranoia: Mumbai doctors warn against self-medicating, say it is harmful

Mumbai doctors said the irrational use of medicines could lead to drug resistance

mumbai Updated: Aug 04, 2017 13:29 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
Swine flu,Mumbai doctors,self-medicating
Doctors, however, said it important to get vaccinated.(HT File)

After a swine flu patient being treated at Parel’s KEM Hospital died, medical staff attending to him decided to medicate themselves. Nurses and ward boys at the hospital’s surgery department who had come in contact with the patient desperately sought out medicines, even though none had developed swine flu symptoms.

Mumbai doctors, however, have said that this is not a good idea and have warned against the irrational use of preventive medication. They have strongly advised that people who do not develop symptoms of swine flu patient, should not take medicines such as Tamiflu. They said the irrational use of medicines could lead to drug resistance.

Symptoms of swine flu
  • Symptoms include fever, chills, a sore throat and runny nose.
  • As these are similar to symptoms of common flu, the illness often goes undiagnosed.

A senior doctor from the hospital, who did not wish to be identified, said swine flu has created a lot of panic among the hospital staff.

“The nurses and ward boys got prescriptions for Tamiflu from their department doctor. But, they should not take the medicine if they don’t show symptoms of swine flu within 10 days of contact with the patient,” he said.

Dr Avinash Supe, dean, KEM Hospital said he did not know if his staff were self-medicating. Instead, he said nurses and wards boys were offered swine flu vaccinations, but many refrained from taking them.“ We can’t force them to take the vaccines,” he said.

Dr Anita Mathews, infectious disease expert at Lokmaniya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion said prophylactic treatment was regularly offered to people during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. However, it is not offered anymore.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend prophylactic treatment for swine flu,” she said.

This year, swine flu claimed 322 lives in the state, including 25 in Mumbai. Dr Om Srivastava, a city-based infectious disease specialist, said it was important to get vaccinated. “High-risk people such as diabetics, patients with cardiovascular diseases, pregnant women and hospital staff must take the vaccine,” he said.

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 13:25 IST