Beware, swine flu is spreading in India; 485 deaths during Jan 1-Feb 12

New Delhi: Don’t neglect High Fever, Cough, Sore throat, loose motions, sneezing, leg pain, running nose and body they may be symptoms of swine flu.

Additional Health Secretary Arun Kumar Panda
Additional Health Secretary Arun Kumar Panda

Though high fever is normally considered the first sign of H1N1 influenza, this time many patients with cough and sore throat have been testing positive for the disease, doctors and diagnostic experts said here on Friday.

Doctors and diagnostics are yet not able to identify the reasons of change of symptoms, however, they said on Friday, that it could be due to the virus mutating.

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant (internal medicine) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said, “This time, many patients are not necessarily having fever as an early symptom. Instead, we found new symptoms such as loose motions also.” This, he told to Times of India daily.

Medical experts say children, elderly people and those who are immune-compromised or suffering from diseases such as cancer, HIV or have undergone organ transplant are vulnerable to the disease.

The H1N1 virus caused 485 deaths in India between January 1 and February 12, additional health secretary Arun Kumar Panda said Friday.

He said more than 6,000 people had tested positive for the virus during that time.

“There is no explanation or reason,” Panda said. “We will ask states to investigate why the number of cases is rising.”

In 2009-10, the H1N1 swine flu pandemic spread from central Mexico to 74 other countries including India, killing an estimated 284,000 people, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 2,700 died in India of swine flu between May 2009 and December 2010. Last year, India recorded 218 swine flu-related deaths and 937 cases, down from 2013, when 699 died.

On Wednesday the government said it had placed an order to increase the national stock of diagnostic kits to test for the virus. Authorities are also procuring 10,000 additional masks and 60,000 doses of the anti-viral drug Oseltamivir.

The government plans to draft guidelines for vaccination of healthcare workers. Panda, however, dismissed reports there was any widespread shortage of medicines to fight swine flu.

Panda said there were usually more H1N1 cases in winter and he expected the number to drop in the coming weeks.

“It is a matter of worry, but not a matter of panic,” said a health ministry official, who did not wish to be named.

Inputs with Reuters