H1N1 claims first victim in City

26-year-old woman was a teacher; govt on back foot over ability to respond to virus attack

H1N1 claims first victim in City


Roopa Anand

The death of Roopa Anand, the first victim without any pre-existing health complications, has potentially heightened the chances of panic, besides exposing several weaknesses in the State’s ability to respond to the sudden emergence of the virus. A resident of BTM Layout, Roopa died at St Philomena’s Hospital around 1 pm on Wednesday. Roopa’s death was primarily the result of late diagnosis and, consequently, incorrect medication.

Health Department officials took pains to clarify that they did not try to hush up the death, admitting at the same time that the government was yet to take a decision on providing compensation to the next-of-kin of the victim.

Addressing an emergency press conference, Health Department principal secretary I R Perumal said: “The delay has been on account of the department wanting to be certain about the cause of death. We did not want to hide any information.” He added that the respective nodal officer had already traced all of Roopa’s contacts and distributed 500 Tamiflu tablets as precaution to friends and family. 

The officials also said that the government had not taken a decision on providing compensation for the victim’s family. Roopa, a pre-nursery teacher at Sudharshan Vidya Mandir (SVM), is survived by her husband Anand and two sons, Sanjay Krishnan (6) and Keerthik (4). Both the sons go to SVM.

St Philomena’s medical superintendent Dr Shankar Prasad said that Roopa died due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and later tested positive for A (H1N1) influenza. The results of her swab tests arrived at 10.30 pm from Nimhans laboratory the same day. Nimhans neuro-virology department head Dr V Ravi said that though the test results were out by 10.30 pm on Tuesday, doctors wanted to be absolutely sure of the cause. “It takes six-and-a-half hours to obtain the results,” he said.

Symptoms

Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of Roopa’s relatives said that she had fever for five days and visited her father in Neelasandra. It was her father who admitted her to St Philomena’s on August 7 as she suffered from right lower lobe pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia. Dr Prasad said: “Roopa developed breathlessness on August 9 and was put on ventilator. She was administered antibiotics like Cefoperazone+Sulbactam and Levofloxacin for her infection”.

On August 10, when doctors treating her suspected she was carrying the H1N1 virus, Tamiflu was administered and samples of her throat swab were collected and sent to the Nimhans laboratory the same day. According to doctors at St Philomena’s, Roopa was given three doses of Tamiflu even before they received the results of the swab samples.

Roopa was screened and categorised under “B” group for mild symptoms of H1N1 influenza by doctors at St Philomena’s.

This was in accordance with the new procedure followed by hospitals across the City for screening suspected cases.  However, the laboratory tests, which normally take six hours, took more than a day her case was not categorised as “A” (priority) which is usually done for patients in high-risk groups.

St Philomena’s doctors said Roopa did not have any pre-existing medical complication, but when her blood-sugar was tested, she reported more than 500 mg/dl. “Sometimes the sugar level increases even if the patient is not diabetic. Such a condition occurs due to distress,” said intensivist Dr Rajendra Kumar.

Roopa neither had any history of travel nor contacted any person with symtoms of H1N1 influenza. She only had high fever and cough when she was admitted to the hospital. Doctors received official written confirmation of the swab test on Thursday when the Health Department also supplied Tamiflu tablets to Roopa’s family.

However, the health department had to obtain Tamiflu syrup for Roopa’s children.
Clarifying on the Tamiflu syrup given to Roopa’s family, Director of Health Services Dr Usha Vasunkar said her department had given 500 tablets and five bottles of Tamiflu medicine to St Philomena’s Hospital. “We supplied Tamiflu medication for 25 adultsand five children,” she said.

Roopa’s relatives claim medical negligence by St Philomena’s. The basis of their allegation is that she was wrongly diagnosed for pneumonia and then was apparently charged Rs 10,000 for the swab test. Roopa’s husband, Anand, was furious when the media tried to contact him at his residence in BTM Layout. He apparently hit out at a few photojournalists who tried to take pictures of him and his house.  When Deccan Herald contacted him over phone, he shot back angrily, saying: “Why are you calling me now when my wife has already passed away? I do not want anybody to visit me”.

Roopa’s family was billed a hefty sum of Rs 80,000 by St Philomena’s for the entire medication. Dr Prasad said that Rs 10,000 was charged to conduct “bacterial pneumonia screening” by a firm called Syton. However, Roopa tested negative with no bacteria found in the screening test.

Mounting deaths

* An infant, two women and an HIV positive patient die in Pune; India’s toll 22
* No need to panic, this is a major problem and the govt is doing its best: PM
* The central and the state govts are taking all possible measures, says Azad
* One person each succumbs in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Nashik, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram and two in Mumbai
* Azad says only those who have symptoms need to wear a mask
* If an individual feels symptoms like cough and cold, he or she should sit at home

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