The district of Shivamogga in Karnataka has reported an increase in the number of H1N1 or swine flu cases. On Monday, it was reported that a 47-year-old plantation worker from Kerala had died in a private hospital in Udupi district after having contracted the infection.
Officials say that more and more people presented with fevers, suggestive of swine flu. An alert was issued in Shivamogga and the surrounding areas following the detection of a few cases.
“The number of confirmed cases of H1N1 from September 1 until yesterday is 16 in total,” stated Dr Kiran, a senior medical officer with the Department of Health and Family Welfare in Shivamogga.
Health authorities had earlier reported one case of a suspected swine flu in Thirthahalli. Following this, a number of school children in the region reportedly came down with a fever, causing some panic among officials.
Jayachamarajendra Government Hospital
“It started with an outbreak of what seemed like viral fever in many schoolchildren in Thirthahalli. Around 16 to 20 children from a school presented with fever. Since we had already seen a case of swine flu, as per our protocol we treated these new cases as swine flu until we were sure what the exact diagnosis was. We kept the children under observation and treated them and managed to contain the fever in the area by September 10,” he added.
Shortly after that, a number of similar complaints starting coming from nearby areas. Officials set up a monitoring program by going door to door and ensuring that all those presenting with any symptoms were tended to.
Swine Flu/H1N1 Ward at Jayachamarajendra Government Hospital
“Following the Ganesh festival, when many people had gone out of town and others had come to visit relatives, we saw an influx of fever cases. Since we had already reported a few cases of swine flu, it was protocol to treat all cases of fever as swine flu, until we had evidence to suggest otherwise,” Dr Kiran added.
Affected areas were identified as Shivarajpura, Upper Kuruvalli, Mahishi and Megaravalli. Health authorities are continuing door to door examinations to ensure that no one is left untreated or examined.
“H1N1 is a strain of a swine influenza virus. We all know of the 2009 outbreaks which left everyone shaken, but it is not as much of a threat now. We do have a few vaccines in place against the virus,” explains Dr Keerti, a Chennai based general physician. “Most people present with a high fever, tiredness, coughing, and other general symptoms of a cold.”
The virus can spread through person to person contact in the form of air droplets, or residue left behind from coughing and sneezing. In 2009, the outbreaks were triggered when the virus spread to humans from pigs, hence giving rise to the name ‘swine flu’.
While Dr Kiran states that a few sporadic cases are normally expected during the monsoons, they are on alert to make sure that the suspected cases are now contained.
Those suspected to have swine flu have been started on Tamiflu antiviral medication, as their reports are awaited. A special unit is being set up at Thirthahalli’s Jayachamarajendra Government Hospital. Roughly 30 people are being taken up for the swab test daily and an advisory has been issued asking women and children to be cautious.