As chill sets in, H1N1 fears rise in Bangalore
After dengue, the State and the city in particular are being advised to prepare for yet another arrival of an unwelcome visitor this winter-H1N1 (Swine) flu. With 18 deaths and 115 cases reported since January, cases could shoot up during the cold season.
Speaking to Express, Dr Geetha Nyamgouder said the figures were not alarming compared to the last few years. However, the State government recently issued a standing instruction to all district health officers to increase awareness, education and communication programmes to the public through its 35,000 link workers. “Neglecting common cold, fever, headache and nasal secretions may cost people their lives as they may be one of the symptoms of the virus,” Dr Nyamgouder said. She noted that children and the elderly were more vulnerable as their immunity levels were low.
Worryingly for Bangaloreans, areas under BBMP limits registered more cases than the average incidence in the State. In BBMP limits, 64 cases were detected in 2012, out of which three turned out to be fatal.
Dr Manoranjan Hegde, BBMP nodal officer, said, “We have deployed three health officers, six deputy health officers, 27 medical health officers and all auxiliary nursing midwives to reach out to people with information on precautions to avoid the complications of this disease.”
Dr Shashidhar Buggi, medical director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, confirmed the hospital recorded a significant number of cases of H1N1 flu in 2012, many of which were fatal. “Swine flu claimed 48 lives in 2012, but things have improved this year. However, the virus has a higher chance of spreading through droplets during winter,” Buggi said.
He explained H1N1 flu does not spread during summer and in hot weather. “The virus loses functionality when the temperature is high,” Buggi explained. This, he said, is when the trends are expected to drop.
Watch Out for These Symptoms
Swine flu does not respond to antibiotics. It may lead to multi-organ failure. Symptoms are similar to common influenza infections. These include fever (100 degree F or higher), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue and headache. Some patients may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Patients may also suffer from pneumonia (secondary bacterial infection) if the viral infection persists.
Treating the Killer Flu
H1N1 patients require management in intensive care units using therapies in addition to antiviral treatment. Treatment is effective only when patients are treated less than 48 hours after infection. Tamiflu is advised for patients along with fluid intake at regular intervals. Paracetamol is prescribed to reduce fever. Severe respiratory problems may require treatment with support systems like a ventilator.