More flu cases in monsoon, winter: Experts

More flu cases in monsoon, winter: Experts

Experts said people need to be more vigilant and take precautions as the swine flu virus has entered the country.

“Surveillance and screening has to be given high priority. The virus has been mild so far, but it is a well-known fact that it could change its behaviour. And if it changes, then the virus could be more virulent,” Randeep Guleria, head of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences said.

“The swine flu virus can spread rapidly during monsoon and winter months. Therefore, we could see more infections in the coming months. It could be serious,” he added. Guleria warned that there were chances that the virus could spread in clusters. “People need to be more vigilant as the virus has entered the country.

The chances are now that it would spread in a community or in clusters like schools or localities,” he said. If people living in a community or a cluster exhibit similar illness symptoms, they should be screened or tested for the virus so that the anti-flu Tamiflu medicine can be given in time.

S Chatterjee, senior consultant in the internal medicine department in Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, agreed with Guleria, saying there is a “possibility that the second strain of virus might turn lethal in winter. The best thing is to follow precautions and early diagnosis of flu.”

According to Chatterjee, since there is a possibility of the number of cases rising, the government should identify private hospitals for treatment.

“Government hospitals alone cannot handle the swine flu cases if there is an outbreak, and so the government should identify private hospitals to handle such cases,” he said.
Sunil Kumar Lal, assistant scientist at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, said: “There is a possibility of the virus mutating as it circulates. We have to watch the virus closely. Scientists across the globe are working to develop a vaccine for the flu that would be effective during the second wave.”

NIV directorspeak

National Institute of Virology director A C Mishra says:

* Large number of swine flu cases in the country are mild in nature

* H1N1 virus now has “one more dimension” with a fatality for the first time

* Virus behaviour is unpredictable

* No indication till now that virus has undergone change in strain

* H1N1 pandemic “can be lethal or can die out”