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Outbreak of swine flu in Karnataka

In Karnataka, 456 people have tested positive for the H1N1 virus — also known as swine flu.

Copyright: designer491 / 123RF Stock PhotoA 52 year-old woman from Siddipet is the first reported fatality resulting from H1N1 infection. Another eleven patients are currently in critical care at the time of writing.  The woman was admitted to hospital with a high fever, convulsions and pneumonia earlier in the week before her death.

Reports from the Directorate of Public Health and Family Welfare indicate that five people have died due to swine flu between August 1 and October 11 this year, with the 52 year-old woman being the sixth case.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara has held a meeting with health department officials, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Mayor Gangambike and other municipal corporation officials to discuss an action plan to curb the spread of the H1N1 virus. As the virus is now present across a number of neighbouring states including Telangana, cross-state cooperation is a necessity.

State health departments have issued an alert and require hospitals to prepare isolation wards in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Guidelines have also been issued to individuals who suspect they may have the virus dividing them into categories depending on circumstance and symptoms.

Category A patients – those with mild fever and a cough, with or without body ache — do not require treatment with antiviral medication Oseltamivir or testing for influenza. These individuals have been told to stay at home and attempt to isolate themselves to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Category B patients are deemed to have slightly more severe symptoms such as a worse fever. What differentiates this group is additional risk factors such as pregnant women, persons aged 65 years or older, patients with lung diseases, heart disease, liver disease or a variety of other conditions which may make the flu case more dangerous. These patients will be isolated at home and treated with Oseltamivir.

Category C is the most severe. These individuals may have symptoms or other risk factors as described in A and B, with additional, more severe symptoms. These may include breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood or bluish discolouration of nails. These patients are in need of hospitalisation.

The number of cases is expected to rise. Hospitals are currently in the process of preparing for this eventuality. “The peak season for swine flu is usually November and December. We expect numbers to go up further. People need to maintain extra care and not ignore symptoms of fever and flu,” said IPM director Dr K Shankar.

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