Swine Flu: Hot,dry weather will subdue virus in fortnight,say virologists

The National Institute of Virology has completed the genome mapping of the H1N1 virus that has spread across the country and found that it is of the same group — Clade 6 and 7 — that prevailed during the 2009 pandemic.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: April 10, 2012 4:26 am

The National Institute of Virology (NIV) has completed the genome mapping of the H1N1 virus that has spread across the country and found that it is of the same group — Clade 6 and 7 — that prevailed during the 2009 pandemic. While in March,as many as 270 cases of swine flu and nine deaths were recorded in Pune itself,virologists hope that the virus will die out within a fortnight due to rise in temperatures.

The transmissibility of the virus has gone down from 15 to 10 per cent,NIV scientists said. NIV director Dr A C Mishra said it is likely that extreme dryness and heat will subdue the virus in 15-20 days.

The molecular characterisation of the virus,which was recently completed by NIV using polymerase chain reaction tests,also shows that it is the same as the one constantly circulating and evolving across the world. “However,the Clade 6 and 7 of the virus,which is presently circulating,is likely to die out in the next fortnight,” Mishra said.

This is one ‘sly’ virus that has stumped the virologists at NIV. The scientists are bewildered as the virus has not followed the dictum of seasonality. “Normally,there are seasonal influenza outbreaks during monsoon and winter. While a fair share of influenza viruses does find it difficult to survive a hot summer season,the H1N1 virus has been extremely unpredictable,” said Mishra.

Already,cases have been reported from Bangalore,Chennai and Delhi. Due to the 2009 pandemic in Pune,influenza surveillance has been good and cases were picked up early. The extremely hot days and cold nights in Pune last month had proved conducive to the spread of the virus. In April till date,there have been 107 cases in Pune and another 10 in Nagpur,Aurangabad,Mumbai and Nashik. There have been six deaths due to swine flu in April,of which two were from Nashik and the rest from Pune. In Pimpri-Chinchwad,there have been five deaths since March.

The good news is that the current strain of the virus can be tackled by the same preventive vaccines anti-flu medication used during the earlier pandemic. State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said there has been a decline in the transmissibility of the virus in the last four days.

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