With surge in swine flu cases and deaths in various states across the country, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today 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.
“It is for the first time that the virus has become active in sweltering heat unlike earlier years when swine flu used to strike mainly in winter months.Swine flu isn’t seasonal anymore.Mutation has made H1N1 virus, popularly called swine flu, a year-round malady,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the changed virus is more virulent and majority of deaths have been of healthy individuals.
This year, so far, nearly 16,500 positive cases have been reported across the country, which include 800 deaths.
Various states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have been badly hit.
“Swine flu is knocking on our door. We need to intensify surveillance activities and gear up hospitals to prevent an outbreak. Persons with acute respiratory febrile illness should report to doctors or a nearby medical facility and suspected cases should be tested and immediately isolated,” it added.
The statement said that hand washing and respiratory etiquettes are two key ways to prevent spread of the disease.
“Doctors should start antivirals within 2 days of illness to prevent serious complications and deaths”.
WHO has recommended a new H1N1 vaccine strain – A/Michigan/45/2015 – to replace A/California/7/2009, which has been in use as a vaccine strain since 2009 pandemic.