H1N1 returns: what can be done to control the virus: (The Hindu, Editorial) (H1N1 returns: Preventive measures you should take)
At least 22 people died of H1N1 infections in Mumbai in 2017, and more than 500 cases were registered
Statistics related to H1N1 virus:
- This year, 12,500 people have been infected with the influenza a H1N1 virus, of which 600 have died.
- According to official data, Maharashtra alone account for 284 deaths, which by itself is much more than the total mortality figure of 265 in the country as a result of H1N1 in 2016.
- Even in the first three months of 2017, the number of cases and deaths were fairly high , at over 6,000 and 160, respectively.
- The whole genome sequencing carried out at Pune’s National Institute of Virology.
- For instance, the California strain had been circulating around the world since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. But, as a result of point mutations, a new strain- the Michigan stain –emerged last year.
- India witnessed the circulation of both the California and Michigan strains in 2016.
- This year, surveillance revealed that the H1N1 virus found in India is only the Michigan strain.
- As in the case of the California strain, the Michigan strain too is susceptible to the drug Oseltamivir.
- In order to make to the drug widely available and easily accessible, the drug was moved from Schedule X to Schedule H1 last month.
- Timely diagnosis and easy availability of the drug are expected to reduce mortality.
- There are total 42 laboratories providing diagnostic services across the country, and there is compelling need to increase this number.
- Since the 2009 pandemic, H1Ni has become a seasonal flu virus strain in India even during the peak of summer.
What is H1N1 virus?
- H1N1 virus or swine flu is a respiratory disorder.
- According to WHO, the virus is a strain of influenza.
- It is commonly known as swine flu because it was detected in patients who were directly in contact with pig.
- According to WHO, genetic analyses of the virus shows that it originated from animal influenza viruses.
- It was detected for the first time in North America in April 2009, after which it rapidly spread all around the world.
- In June 2009, the disease spread across 74 countries and territories.
What are the causes?
- As per WHO, the H1N1 virus spreads just like other seasonal influenza viruses.
- It spreads from exposure to an infected person.
- When an infected person coughs or sneezes, he/she leaves behind infected droplets. Exposure to these infected droplets can contaminate hands and surfaces.
What are the symptoms of the virus?
- The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to season flu.
- The symptoms included cough, fever, sore theat, runny nose, headache and bodyache.
- In extreme cases, the patient also feels chills and fatigue.
- The swine flu, like every other regular flu, can develop into serious problems such as pneumonia, lung infection and other breathing problems.
- The solution to reduce the number of cases and deaths is by framing a national policy for influenza immunization
- Better awareness
- More robust surveillance system
- There is need to have both qualitative and quantitative data on the vulnerable population
- Vaccinating health-care workers who come in contact with high-risk patients should be given priority.