Swine flu isn’t seasonal anymore; Virus mutates, DAK sounds alert

Swine flu isn’t seasonal anymore; Virus mutates, DAK sounds alert
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Srinagar: With surge in swine flu cases and deaths in various states across the country, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday sounded an alert and asked health authorities in Kashmir to be prepared for contingencies.

President DAK and H1N1 expert, Dr Nisar ul Hassan, in a statement said that swine flu virus has mutated, which is the reason for unusual spike in cases even in summer months.

“Researchers at National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have found that swine flu virus has mutated and a new strain of virus – called the Michigan strain has been identified – that has replaced earlier California strain which was circulating since 2009 pandemic,” said a statement issued by DAK.

The statement said that it was for the first time that the virus became active in sweltering heat unlike earlier years when the flu struck mainly in winter months.

“Swine flu isn’t seasonal anymore,” the statement said. “Mutation has made H1N1 virus, popularly called swine flu, a year-round malady.”

The changed virus, DAK said, was more virulent and majority of deaths had been of healthy individuals. This year so far, the association said, nearly 16,500 positive cases have been reported across India, which include 800 deaths.

The statement said that swine flu is knocking “our door” as various (Indian) states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi, were badly hit.

“We need to intensify surveillance activities and gear up hospitals to prevent an outbreak,” DAK said. “Persons with acute respiratory febrile illness should report to doctors or a nearby medical facility and suspected cases should be tested and immediately isolated.”

Advising people to take precautions, DAK said that hand washing and respiratory etiquettes were two key ways to prevent spread of the disease. Doctors should start anti-virals within 2 days of the illness to prevent serious complications and deaths, DAK advised.

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