H1N1 cases high in Ernakulam

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KOCHI: In spite of the health department’s claim on preventive measures being taken, the number of H1N1 cases in the district is rising. Nearly 40 cases were reported this year with the number of patients witnessing a sharp increase in March and April. As on April 15, as many as 260 confirmed cases were reported in the state with 17 deaths. Meanwhile, in Ernakulam, the number of cases reported this year is 46 while 13 cases were reported in April. No deaths were reported.

“Earlier, in 2010 and 2012 when the H1N1 influenza cases were reported, doctors in government and private hospitals were put on high alert for symptoms of infection, especially if accompanied by other health complications. This time, however, when the number of confirmed cases is on the rise, no special screening centres were opened at hospitals. Even existing centres are not functioning properly. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), the anti-viral drug, is not available in all taluk hospitals,” said a senior doctor in government health service on condition of anonymity. Since Tamiflu is not available in syrup form, paediatricians have to prescribe the capsule to children.

Meanwhile, district medical officer Dr N.K. Kuttappan told this newspaper that the situation is not alarming and there is enough stock of Oseltamivir. “Screening centres are functioning in most of the district and taluk hospitals with facilities to collect and send throat swab samples for lab test,” he said. “Since the symptoms of virus infection are similar to that of common cold like running nose and cough, medical advice should be sought if the symptoms do not subside in two or three days. Especially, the high risk group persons like pregnant women, children and elderly with suggestive symptoms should not treat symptoms with over the counter drugs,” the DMO added.

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