Delhi has reported 168 cases of swine flu till January 13, as compared to just 11 cases reported till January 21 last year. As per data released by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), a total of 205 people tested positive for the flu in the whole of 2018.
The most common strain, H1N1 — which was first reported in 2009 — is expected to be the strain this year as well. Initially recorded in 2009 in Mexico, the disease was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010.
“Last year, the strain of the flu was H3N2. Both H3N2 and H1N1 cause similar disease… This year, there might be a minor drift. Since H1N1 caused a pandemic in 2009, now we are in the seasonal influenza strain,” said Dr Shobha Broor, a former microbiologist at AIIMS.
Dr Atul Kakkar, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Cases are definitely on the higher side, but it is too early to predict the strain. The numbers may also be on the higher side this year due to extensive reporting of the disease by authorities. The dip in temperature can be one of the contributing factors to the higher numbers. We will need to worry only if a new strain is detected.”
So far this month, two suspected swine flu deaths were reported from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital. The Centre-run hospital has seen 26 suspected cases of swine flu, of which two patients died and four have been discharged.
Doctors said precautions should be taken such as frequent washing of hands and avoiding crowded places. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people who are on long-term medication or suffering from immuno-deficient conditions are most at risk.
“Those suffering from kidney- and heart-related ailments should stay extra cautious. It is important to maintain proper hygiene and avoid contact with any person having symptoms of swine flu,” said Dr Jugal Kishore from the department of community medicine, Safdarjung Hospital.
The hospital has so far reported five confirmed cases of the disease. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to that of a common cold and fever. It includes fever, cough, nasal secretion, fatigue, headache, body ache and sore throat.
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 third is dangerous and requires ventilator support immediately.