E-City now a swine flu hotspot

E-City now a swine flu hotspot

While the number of H1N1 swine flu cases in the city has come down, according to health officials, the disease is becoming increasingly centered around Electronics City.

A majority of the identified cases involve migrant workers employed in the garment industry in and around the information technology super hub.

Dr Sunanda Reddy, district surveillance officer, Bengaluru (urban), said on Thursday that while 64 cases were reported in the city last year with the loss of four lives, the number of cases dropped to 39 this year. 70% of those affected are migrant workers, most of them employed in Electronics City, she said.

“We believe the crisis is under control,” said Dr Reddy. “Everyday, healthcare staff and volunteers inspect at least 20 city homes to find traces of the virus and explain preventive measures to residents.” The unit said it has already canvassed 1,90,310 houses in the city.

The challenges facing medical staff, however, are steep. The virus, which can survive on exposed surfaces, including furniture, for up to eight hours, is capable of infecting people through mere touch. The district surveillance unit is attempting to limit the virus’ reach by trying to identify potential cases based on travel history, especially of passengers arriving from Mumbai.

“We recently screened 158 suspected cases who were administered tamiflu as a preventive measure,” Dr Reddy said.

The efforts have had mixed success. While health officials dealing with Bengaluru cite the low number of cases as compared to other locations around the country as progress, Dr S Sajjan Shetty, joint director of communicable diseases at the department of health and family welfare, reported the number of cases in the state have actually gone up in the last two to three weeks.

Shetty reported a figure of 567, currently infected in the state.

H1N1 reports by the department showed a total of 490 cases a week ago, with 52 cases in Udupi district, 50 in Mysuru, 48 in Bengaluru (urban) and 40 in Dakshina Kannada. No deaths were reported until a few days ago till a person from Tumakuru died at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, according to the surveillance unit.

“We don’t know the reason for the spike, as there was a dip in the numbers in December. We have issued a directive to medical staff across Karnataka to begin exhaustive measures to prevent further rise in numbers,” Dr Shetty said.

Exhaustive measures include directing medical staff to report to hospitals sooner, and informing the public about safety and prevention.

According to the figures revealed by Dr Rahath Humera, an epidemiologist of the Bengaluru surveillance unit, 1,638 medical practitioners in private hospitals and 12 medical schools across the city are coordinating with the government to identify cases.

“The crisis will be brought under control,” Dr Reddy said. “But it is up to everyone to take responsibility for their own health.”

“About 1,550 primary healthcare workers, 9,000 additional staff and volunteers are actively engaged in H1N1 preventive measures,” Dr Reddy added. The unit has also conducted information campaigns in K R Puram, Devanahalli, Bengaluru South and Anekal to educate people about how the virus is contracted.

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