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Swine flu: Pune airport goes on alert

Health officials in Pune are not taking any chances as they work round the clock to keep any possible H1N1 virus (swine flu) from entering the city limits.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
May 5, 2009 10:09:45 pm

Health officials in Pune are not taking any chances as they work round the clock to keep any possible H1N1 virus (swine flu) from entering the city limits.

Nowhere in the city was this as clear on Monday as at the Pune airport,where director J P Mathur and his team have started screening passengers flying into the city from Dubai and Germany (Pune has only two direct international flight operators — Lufthansa and Air India).

Apart from stockpiling masks and Tamiflu medicines,six teams of doctors will be stationed at the Pune airport,said Joint Director of Health Services Dr Suresh Dhotre.

Dhotre conducted a meeting on Monday that was attended by airport officials,Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation health officials,Sassoon General hospital and National Institute of Virology (NIV) authorities. He made arrangements for 20 beds at the infectious diseases ward of the Naidu Hospital. At least 10,000 doses of Tamiflu medicine will be stocked,hesaid.

Mathur said there are nearly 100-120 passengers aboard each international flight — coming in the city from Dubai and Germany. “These flights are on alternate days and we have distributed a questionnaire along with the declaration forms to the airlines that passengers are required to fill,” he said.

Apart from these measures,Chief Medical Officer of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) Dr Vasant Gokak said tests would be conducted as per the set guidelines.

“Apart from these two international flights there are chartered flights from UK and we will be screening these passengers too,” Gokak said.

NIV Director Dr A C Mishra said it would take less than a day to test the samples and inform the results to the Health Ministry. The World Health Organisation has asked Serum Institute of India Limited to prepare a vaccine against H1N1 virus.

Dr S S Jadhav,executive director,Serum Institute,said it will take at least eight months to prepare a vaccine. Meanwhile,the institute will also have to put on hold for a brief while the WHO project to prepare the avian pandemic flu vaccine.

Meanwhile,at the animal husbandry department,arrangements have been made to send serum samples of suspected cases of infected pigs to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal. On Monday,two serum samples of pigs that died in Jalna were sent along with one more sample from Jalgaon district.

20 pigs reported dead in Jalna
On Monday,the animal husbandry department officials sent two serum samples of dead pigs from Jalna district to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal. “Some 20 pigs were reported dead in Jalna while our officials found eight pigs dead in Jalgaon district. The pigs have reportedly died due to fever. As a precautionary measure,we have alerted all our 4,000 veterinary doctors to conduct checks and even use disinfectants at piggeries. The Wadari community has also been told to keep a check on pigs and alert the officials if they are docile and suffer from other symptoms,” said D S Zagade,Animal Husbandry Commissioner.

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