Experts say that the prolonged occurrence of seasonal flu, which is mostly seen between September and December, is worrying and called for more focus on prevention and early diagnosis. Since January, there have been as many as 1,020 cases, including A, B and C categories based on the severity, says Dr K Kolandaisamy, Director, Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
“Though we suggest testing only for C category (those with severe symptoms and require hospitalisation), but doctors don’t want to rule out any other case,” he said. “In Category A, we have people who do not require testing for H1N1. These include people with mild fever, cough and sore throat, body ache, headache, etc, but they can be monitored for 24-48 hours. In Category B, we have those with symptoms similar to Category A, but also have high-grade fever and belong to the high-risk category,” says Kolandaisamy.
“The first time, we saw H1N1 prevalent during September, 2009. In the second time, we saw it seen it around January-March. It is cyclical and a little severe. We are not complacent about the efforts to combat it,” he said. He added that they have been encouraging those with comorbidities to check their sugar and BP levels, as they are vulnerable.
“Hand transmission is the reason for 80 per cent of the cases, as the infected touch surfaces and switches, contaminating them. That’s why we stress on hand hygiene,” he said and added that those who require assistance can get in touch with the 104 helpline.
Dr Sridevi Anantharaman, general physician, Apollo Hospitals, Vanagaram, admits there has been a spike in the number of cases and that there have been many admissions.
“However, we do not suggest hospitalisation for all of them to ensure there is not further spread to the staff and the public. Some can be treated in isolation at their houses as well,” she said and added that “People need to be educated about the symptoms like myalgia and high fever along with typical viral symptoms.”
“Swab tests are being done on those with high fever, otherwise we give them symptomatic treatment. It is also best to ensure they do not come in contact with pregnant women and wear a mask as these are droplet infections. It is better to get vaccinated if you have such cases at home,” she points out. Sridevi says that the disease could be a result of travels abroad by people and the tropical weather makes it congenial for the infection to spread.