BHUBANESWAR: With Swine Flu resurfacing in several parts of the country, particularly neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, fear of its spread in Odisha looms large.
The State Government has begun to gear up its surveillance system and initiate precautionary measures to handle any emergency. Instructions have been issued to all the district hospitals, the three medical colleges and hospitals along with the private ones to be prepared to handle cases, if any. They have been asked to ready isolation wards, while supplies of required medicine and preventive kits have been sent to the facilities. The district administrations have also been asked to keep vigil on the situation.
Though the Health Department authorities have discounted a 2010-like situation, when Influenza A H1N1 had claimed more than 25 lives from among around 100 positive cases, they are wary of its emergence at the most ‘unlikely and unsuitable’ time of the year, onset of intense summer.
The H1N1 virus thrives in cold and moist conditions and thus outbreaks have been reported from July to December or January. This year, the virus has begun to spread fast from March, when the temperatures have been above 35 degrees in the affected parts of the country.
As per the Union Health Ministry data, around 150 cases have been reported, mostly from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka, with death roll touching 14 as on March 21. Most of the deaths have been reported during the later part of March.
“The possibility of its taking roots in Odisha, however, is quite low as temperatures have started soaring. But considering the national scenario, nothing can be left to chance. The widening gap between day and night temperatures could be aiding generation of the virus and facilitating the spread,” State Nodal officer for disease surveillance Bikash Pattanaik said.
According to Met Department reports, maximum temperature in the State is registering a rise while minimum temperature has fallen below normal in many parts. And, this could be a cause of concern.
Health authorities have, though ruled out any reason to panic. H1N1 has taken shape of seasonal flu and assumed to have lost much of its virulence, Pattanaik said, but at the same time emphasised on keeping a watch on the flu like symptoms.
“People suffering from symptoms of cold, fever with sore throat, running nose, body ache and breathing problems should consult doctors if their condition does not improve after two days. The medical authorities and institutions at the State and district level have been asked to be on alert and take necessary steps for treatment and containment, if need arises. Adequate stock of Tamiflu is available at hospitals and doctors have been asked to treat patients as per protocol issued by the Centre on H1N1,” he said.