CHENNAI: While it was dengue that kept health department on its toes last year, this year, it is swine flu that is keeping officials busy as 65 cases and two deaths have been reported in the State already, according to a Union Health Ministry report.Though, according to officials, cases of swine flu, a seasonal influenza, are seen only in winter, the trend is changing. Last year, the spike was in February-March, but this year so far only over 60 cases and two deaths have been reported.
Its a seasonal influenza and cases are reported usually in winter. But, last year, it was different. So, we are not taking chances and we are prepared, said K Kolandaswamy, Director of Public Health.A Union Health Ministry report showed that between January and April 22, 65 cases and two deaths have been reported. Last year, 3,315 cases and 17 deaths were reported while officials shifted their focus to dengue. The officials said the health department has taken all precautionary measures to prevent swine flue cases this year. We have taken all precautionary measures to control the cases.
From January, over 3,000 people were screened for swine flu and among them over 60 were positive. Now, we have two people with swine flu cases undergoing treatment and they are stable. A last year-like situation will not be repeated this year, the official said. Meanwhile, sources said the Directorate of Public Health had procured H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine for staff who handled these cases. But, many staff refused to take the vaccine saying, its not swine flu season.
There are cases, so the government procured H1N1 vaccines for staff, but since many refuse to take it, they are lying in drug warehouses. Its off season. Even if they take, the strain of the virus changes and the vaccine might not be effective, a source said. Kolandaswamy said it is a must for staff who handle cases, but not recommended for public.
We are promoting handwashing and also general public hygiene to contain the infection. We hope there will be no cases like last year .Last year, dengue was the most challenging to officials though other diseases also relatively spiked, including swine flu. In 2016, there were 122 cases and two swine flu deaths. In 2015, there were 898 cases and 29 deaths were reported. Last year, there were 23,035 cases and 63 dengue deaths were reported, and in 2016, 2,531 cases and five deaths were reported. However, officials claim there are no dengue cases so far this year.