The swine flu count continues to rise in Delhi with 21 people testing positive for the virus on Sunday. Cases were reported from Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia, Max Hospital, Apollo Hospital and Fortis, VasantKunj. An official from the health department said seven patients were being treated at their homes. The Delhi state government has designated 22 hospitals, including five private ones, for treatment of swine flu. The swine flu virus despite not as virulent as it was in 2009 is still giving experts a cause for concern. Because many people tend to ignore the initial symptoms, the disease tends to reach a critical stage before people seek treatment.

Delhi Health Minister AK Walia said that hospitals had enough stock Tamiflu and isolation wards while the testing is being carried out at three different places – AIIMS, National Institute of Communicable Diseases and Patel Chest Institute. In addition to this Walia said that five private labs are also equipped to carry out tests.

Virus came to Mumbai from Delhi?

Doctors have confirmed that the two Mulund-based swine flu cases in Mumbai had caught the virus in Delhi. This is significant because the temperature difference between the two cities is such that the virus can survive more easily in Delhi’s cool climate compared to Mumbai.

2009-like pandemic on the cards?

In 2009-2010, official numbers suggests that till May 2010, over 1000 people died in India because of the swine flu and over 10,000 were infected. However, a Lancet study suggests that death toll could have been much higher, somewhere anywhere between 1.5 lakhs – 6 lakhs and 80% of the deaths were among people under 65. This is odd because seasonal flu mostly kills people above the 65 age group. In 2011 and 2012 there was fall in the numbers however this year it seems to have come back with a vengeance. There are various reasons for this including a prolonged winter. The elderly, diabetics, people with kidney problems, cancer patients and anyone else who has a comprised immune system are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

Simply covering your mouth while sneezing or coughing and/or wearing a mask isn’t enough to protect yourself from the virus.  The H1N1 virus is surprisingly resilent and can survive on door knobs, table tops and other contact surfaces for a  long time.

Prevention

Swine flu isn’t a disease that you can catch from pigs. It is in fact, a human virus that spreads from one human to another. The virus is extremely contagious. Here are some swine flu prevention tips: 

  • It can spread through coughing and sneezing so always cover your face while doing so. And make sure people around you in office or home also follow this.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth too often
  • Maintain a high level of personal hygiene. Always wash your hands before or after eating and particularly after returning from a public place.
  • Sometimes virus can spread through droplets that have remained on surfaces of things like laptops, phones so avoid using someone else’s items.
  • Avoid public places, unhygienic conditions, etc.
  • If your city/area is swine-flu endemic, always wear a standard swine flu mask  in public places (the H-95 mask which is worn by nurses and doctors while collecting samples from swine flu victims). Normal surgical masks which sell like hot cakes during swine flu season might not give enough protection.
  • If you feel sick and look like you are developing a cold or fever, stay at home and take enough rest. Rest has also been shown to increase ‘interferons’ which help our immunity to fight the virus better. Keeping away from others also prevents spread of the infection.

Also read: Swine flu: All you need to know