With reports of nearly 500 cases of swine flu from across the country this season, doctors and experts say the viral disease sees an upswing during winters but there is no need to panic. Closed and crowded spaces such as offices and air-conditioned homes aided the spread of the disease, say doctors. According to doctors, though H1N1 flu cases peak during this season, infection can be avoided by taking simple precautions such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks and avoiding closed and crowded places.
Swine flu is a common occurrence in countries with extreme cold weather such as the United States and parts of Europe, said Randeep Guleria, head, Department of Pulomonary Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). "The only difference is that while cases of swine flu peak in other parts of the world during winter, in India, there are two outbreaks -- one in winter and one in monsoon, specially in South India," Guleria told us.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), while declaring the H1N1 Pandemic to be over in August 2010, also conveyed that the influenza virus now would take on the behaviour of seasonal flu and continue to circulate for some years to come. Hence, in the post-pandemic period, localised outbreaks of varying magnitude with significant level of H1N1 transmission are expected, said WHO. Swine flu spread very rapidly worldwide due to its high human-to-human transmission rate and due to the frequency of air travel.
With the number of swine flu cases rising in India this season, doctors have asked people not to panic at the slightest flu symptoms. Most symptoms of swine flu are similar to common flu. "Only look for high fever which is unrelenting and sudden breathlessness," Suranjit Chatterjee, internal medicine consultant, Apollo Hospital, told us.
List of precautions to avoid swine flu
- Wash hands regularly
- The infected should wear masks
- Extra precaution for school-going children, diabetics or heart patients
- Avoid closed and crowded places
- Rush to hospital in case of high fever and breathlessness
- Fever, cough, sore throat and body ache
- Nausea, diarrhea and breathlessness in extreme cases