Second wave of H1N1: State not prepared yet

Second wave of H1N1: State not prepared yet

While the State Health Department is hoping that the lessons learnt over the past five months might help it combat any unanticipated worsening of the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, its ground preparedness may not be enough to stem the tide of overwhelming patient numbers.

Hospitals are expected to be under considerable strain since the State is equipped with only three throat swab-testing laboratories, not too many well-trained health workers, and poor public awareness. Two of these laboratories are located in Bangalore and the other in Manipal. “The support system in place remains as it was when the H1N1 situation peaked in June-July,” an official said.

What may worsen the situation in the event of a deadlier outbreak mid-November is the fear among Central health ministry officials that the H1N1 vaccine may not hit the market before December or January next year. Procuring vaccine is also a part of preparedness for the feared second wave of H1N1 influenza said Central Health Ministry joint secretary Vineet Chawdhry.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, he said: “We are in the process of procuring H1N1 vaccine from an international pharma company.  We do not know which company, but vaccine will be out by December,” he said.

Karnataka was among some of the worst-hit states in the country, accounting for as many as 114 deaths (there were 67 deaths in Bangalore). The number of people who tested positive for H1N1 went into several hundreds.

The weather in November and December, according to experts, will be ideally suited for the H1N1 virus to multiply and so the expectation that it could return with a vengeance this flu season poses a challenge for the State health department.
Dr T S Chaluvaraju, Joint Director of Communicable Diseases, Health and Family Services, said the second wave may or may not be virulent.

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