Fighting swine flu
This winter the swine flu H1N1 claimed near about two dozen lives in Kashmir. Though medicos argue that the number is far less compared to the severity of winter conditions and the population but still it can be said that the administration was caught napping.
Given the way the cases were handled, it showed that much caution and preparations could have been initiated by the administration ahead of the winter season.
Notably, the number of patients infected this season had risen in number. Swine flu, also known as H1N1 virus is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that spreads from person to person through the inhalation of respiratory droplets. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and body aches.
The elderly, children under the age of five years, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are prone to develop serious complications from the flu and medicos are advising extreme precaution to stay away from getting infected.
However, what is worrying is the fact the government and more so, the stateís health department is playing ostrich to this deadly viral intrusion. According to various sources more than 150 patients were found infected by the virus this season and so far the government is not willing to admit that the higher incidence and prevalence of the virus needs to be taken seriously.
We have been witnessing increased incidence of H1N1 virus since the past many years now. Every year the number of infected persons grows and this season more than 150 people have been tested positive who were treated at various government hospitals.
But what is concerning is the governments lackadaisical attitude over this growing phenomenon. The governmentís health department shows no concern to aware the people about the spread of this virus and no effort is being spared to get the people vaccinated.
Besides, medico bodies have been pointing to other dangerous trends like another strain of the virus H3N2 overtaking the swine flu (H1N1) virus.
So far this flu season, Swine flu (H1N1) virus was dominant, but a more aggressive H3N2 strain has overtaken it. Now, H3N2 is more frequently reported than H1N1 and this is where the concern lies.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in recent months more than half of the reported flu cases are due to H3N2 infection. The virus is emerging as a predominant strain and is causing a secondary wave of flu.
Worryingly, flu seasons that were dominated by H3N2 were more severe ñ causing more hospitalizations and deaths than seasons dominated by H1N1 or B virus.
What is more worrisome is that the anti flu vaccines are costly and a dose that one has to take to be protected for one season can go upto 1500 Rupees, which of course is a costly preposition for any one here.
Even if the highly vulnerable groups like the children, elderly or those with some health conditions are vaccinated in every family the cost can run upto thousands, which seems highly unaffordable.
The least the government could do straightaway is to subsidize the swine flu vaccine to high-risk groups like elderly, children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women and persons with medical conditions. In addition free vaccination should be offered to poor sections of the society.