BENGALURU: There has been a sudden and worrisome increase in the number of H1N1 cases in Karnataka from February 24, with at least 274 persons testing positive for the disease.
The spike in the cases was for the observed period of February 24 to March 2. The state has recorded seven deaths since January.
According to data from the Karnataka health and family welfare department, the state has reported 344 H1N1cases from January 1 to February 23 this year. The total so far this year is 618 -a sixth of the 2015 tally of 3,565 cases and more than five times the 2016 figure of 110.
Experts acknowledged the big numbers, and explained it as an index of high awareness among people about the disease. More and more people are undergoing stringent medical tests for H1N1 -a welcome sign in preventing the spread of the disease. Media wrote about the rising number of cases on February 24. Doctors admitted it was a challenge to keep infection at bay. Dr Sunil Karanth, chairman of critical-care services, Mani pal Hospitals, said the onset of summer would ebb the number of cases. “Swine flu is a largely winter disease. During winter, the virus mutates and affects more people,” he said.
Dr Rini Banerjee, a consultant for infectious diseases at Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, said, “Unlike dengue and chikungunya, the monsoon has no correlation with H1N1. The virus will weaken in the summer. Reports of H1N1 cases from across the state are an index of increased awareness among people, and indicate that proper testing processes are in place.”
Besides genetic mutation, doc tors attribute the spurt in cases to environmental conditions. “Inability to withstand heat, congestion in cities, and a congenial envi ronment for the virus to spread are the other reasons,” said Dr Ashok SN, consultant for medicine, St Martha’s Hospital.
Dr Banerjee said that informing people about symptoms was vital to curbing swine flu. “Doctors should encourage patients to undergo tests if they show symptoms of H1N1. If anyone has a high-degree fever, sore threat, dry cough, she should get tested for H1N1,” she added.
A general practitioner said children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with diabetes were more vulnerable to swine flu, owing to their low immunity level. “Law-enforcement agencies and the public health department officials should work closely, and monitor poultry markets to prevent the disease from spreading further,” he said.
Dr Ashok said cleanliness and a nutritious diet could help check the spread of swine flu.