HYDERABAD: The state health department’s District Surveillance Teams are facing resistance from some swine flu patients. Fearing alienation in the locality they live in, some patients are trying to avoid the visiting teams. Neighbours, upon knowing that a person is infected with swine flu, start isolating the patients, health officials say. While the Hyderabad District Surveillance Team has stopped conducting swine flu awareness camps altogether, the Warangal team visits several homes in the locality, instead of just the patient’s home, to conceal the identity of the patient.
One of the pivotal jobs of the Surveillance Team is to visit the patient to check his condition. This is done either by visiting a patient’s home or when the patient visits the team members.
Also, they enquire if any close contacts of a patient are also showing symptoms of swine flu. And if they do, prophylactic tablets are given to them. While performing their job, the surveillance teams of some districts are facing resistance in some cases. “Some people don’t allow us to enter the locality. Patients also do not reveal their identity fearing isolation. A few even deny that they are infected with H1N1,” said Dr B.Lalitha, health officer at the district medical and health office, Ranga Reddy.
She said patients ask the team how they secured contact details. Sharing her experience, she said that relatives of a pregnant woman, who was suspected of having swine flu, refused to allow the woman’s swab samples taken for testing. The Institute of Preventive Medicine’s (IPM) report stated that the woman tested positive for the flu.
“The mother of the pregnant woman refused to give swab samples of her daughter for testing and asked me not to call up again,” said Dr Lalitha. Hyderabad District Surveillance Team members said that they conducted a swine flu awareness camp nearby a patient’s home. The fallout: the house-owner asked the patient to vacate the home. “From then on, we have not been conducting such awareness camps,” said a member of the team. Warangal District Surveillance Team visits many homes in the locality where a patient resides to steer away any suspicion that a person in their neighbourhood is infected with swine flu.
“We do not directly head to the home of a patient. According to the guidelines, we have to visit 100 homes around the place, where a patient resides, to enquire if anybody contracted the infection. During this process, we visit the home of swine flu patients too. This way neighbours can’t identify real patients,” said Dr A Sree Krishna Rao, Warangal District Surveillance Officer. Neighbours, on knowing that a person is infected with swine flu, alienate the patient, he said.
The officials said that when patients try to avoid the teams, they convince them to undergo treatment by explaining how the infection will affect the patient and spread to his close contacts.