Swine flu rears its head as mercury dips in Delhi

Just when the deadly dengue and chikungunya were taking their leave from the Capital, a dip in temperature has led to childen complaining about flu-like symptoms. Doctors are claiming that many kids have symptoms of H1N1 influenza, more commonly known as the swine flu.

The minimum temperature recorded on Thursday was 8 degrees Celsius while the maximum hovered around 24 degrees Celsius. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that minimum temperature on Friday and Saturday will be 8 degrees Celsius and 9 degrees Celsius, respectively, while the maximum temperature is expected to be nearly 25 degrees Celsius.

Dr SP Byotra, Senior Consultant with the Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “This is the time when cases of viral fever and swine flu go up. We are witnessing a rise in the number of patients with viral fever, bodyache, vomiting and cough. The cases of H1N1 surface during this time of the year and then continue for long.” Two cases of swine flu have already been reported from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“The cases have started to come up. Symptoms of viral fever and H1N1 are similar in the initial stages. We are taking preventive measures and suggesting medicines to children,” said Dr Sangeeta Subudhi, Senior Consultant with the Department of Pediatrics, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj.

Swine flu symptoms include fever, cough, nasal secretion, fatigue, headache, bodyache and sore throat. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded places are among the precautions one should take to avoid the infection. The standard treatment for H1N1 is Tamiflu, which should be taken only on prescription.

There are three categories of the virus — A, B and C. While the first two are considered stable, the C category is dangerous and requires immediate ventilator support.

Meanwhile, not only H1N1 but cases of pneumonia, typhoid and malaria are being reported by city doctors. New born babies, prone to infections, are catching diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. “Most infant deaths in the first week are due to a weak immune system,” said Dr VK Paul, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS.

The Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report for 2016, released recently by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated that the top five countries with the highest global burden of child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

“Even in today’s time, most children are dying of these two infections. In 2016, more than 12 lakh children under the age of five died in India. Of these deaths, pneumonia caused more than 1.7 lakh deaths and diarrhoea was responsible for more than 1.2 lakh deaths,” Dr Paul added.

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