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May 02, 2009 at 03:40pm IST

Swine flu scare in India, 2 under observation

New Delhi: The Swine flu scare has hit India. Two persons have been kept under observation at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi.

One is a 25-year-old man from Ghaziabad who came back from Texas on April 19. The other is a 35-year-old UK citizen who walked into the hospital on Saturday morning complaining of H1N1 infection like symptoms.

ALSO SEE Vaccine could be found in 4-6 months: WHO

A woman aged 30, her 20-month-old child as well as an American tourist are also under observation at the hospital.

Reports say five persons were admitted to Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.

ALSO SEE FAQs: What you should know about Swine flu

While a few have already been discharged, the hospital has not confirmed the Swine flu infection for the man from Ghaziabad as well as the tourist from UK, which would take another 24 hours.

"We had five samples one from Hyderabad, four from Delhi, all are negative. We have an isolation ward with 30 beds, 20 round the clock doctors - including a physician, ENT, anaesthesist, peadeatric and microbiologist. We have 1,000 tamiflu pills both for patients and doctors who caome in contact with them," said RML's medical superintendent N K Chaturvedi.

"The man was subjected to screening for swine flu symptoms at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and found to have a running nose, cough and throat irritation. He was admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital. We have collected his clinical samples and they have been forwarded to the laboratory for tests," he was further quoted by news agencies as saying.

Meanwhile, the Government is trying to locate 2,000 people who have travelled to India from Mexico in the last few days. The Health Ministry feels that going by their travel itinerary, these are people who are likely to be infected.

And although WHO has confirmed that the H1N1 A influenza is a respiratory infection that is not spread by eating pork, several luxury hotels and restaurants are not taking chances. Delicacies like pork chops, spare ribs, bacon and sausages will remain off the menu until the flu fear subsides.

WHO has also said that the virus does not pass through food cooked above 70 degrees Celsius, or cold meat that is frozen below 20 degrees Celsius.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 365 people across the world have been afflicted with the deadly flu.

WHO Spokesperson Ashok Moloo says that cases of the seasonal flu might be adding to the Swine flu scare because the symptoms are similar.

"We are in level 5 of pandemic alertness and there are signs of spreading. Our laboratories have unconfirmed cases. It's similar to the seasonal flu, so those who have such symptoms are adding up to the influenza numbers," he said.

NEXT PAGE: Flu Dos and Don'ts

PAGE_BREAK

FLU DO'S & DON'TS

  • Avoid travel to affected areas
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Watch out for flu-like symptoms
  • Consult a doctor
  • Cover your face while coughing and sneezing
  • Stay away from infected people as the virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes around other people
  • The virus also spreads when you touch something infected and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes
  • The virus doesn't spread by eating well-cooked pork products
  • Wash hands after handling pork

There is no vaccine yet against the new strain of H1N1 influenza that's sweeping the world but an anti-viral treatment has proved effective in killing this new strain of the virus.

Anti-viral medicines oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are effective in treating new swine flu strain. They prevent duplication of flu virus within the human body. The drugs contain infection and reduce the severity of symptoms. They must be taken within 48 hours of onset of symptoms but doctors don't advise blanket usage across the board, because that could raise the chances of this new virus becoming resistant.

Right now, it's only prescribed for those who are infected or in close proximity to the infected.

NUMBER OF AFFLICTED WORLDWIDE

  • Mexico - 156 cases, 9 deaths
  • US - 141 cases, 1 death
  • Canada - 34 cases
  • Spain - 13 cases
  • UK - 8 cases
  • Germany - 4 cases
  • Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong and Denmark - 1 case each

NEXT PAGE: Level 5 Alertness; Tests for Flu

PAGE_BREAK

LEVEL 5 OF PANDEMIC ALERTNESS

The World Health Organisation has moved to a pandemic alert level of five, on a scale of six.

PHASE 1: No influenza viruse among animals are reported to cause infections in humans

PHASE 2: Animal influenza virus is known to cause infection in humans, considered a potential pandemic threat

PHASE 3: Animal or a human-animal influenza virus causes sporadic cases of disease, but has a limited human-to-human transmission

PHASE 4: Human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza virus that can cause a community-level outbreak

PHASE 5: There is a human-to-human transmission in at least two countries of one region

PHASE 6: A full-blown pandemic, where there are community level outbreaks and sustained human-to-human transmissions in more than one region

WHAT TESTING FOR SWINE FLU ENTAILS

  • Doctors take swabs and flu samples which are opened in a bio chemical lab
  • Two levels of tests are then conducted, the first one for the Influenza A virus
  • If that is positive, then tests for the H1N1 virus are conducted
  • Half the samples are tested at National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Delhi
  • The other half are tested at National Institute of Virology in Pune
  • The results are out in 24 hours and are then corroborated by both

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