Friday, January 27th, 2023 11:07:08

Swan Flu Assuming Monstrous Proportions

Updated: December 19, 2009 1:08 pm

Slowly, but surely, the HINI virus is turning out to be deadly monster. All claims to have contained the deadly disease are proving to be false as each passing day the number of people falling victim to the disease only swells and swells. To make matters worse is the rather early onset of winter in northern India, a factor that aids the disease’s growth and manifestation.

The health ministry says it has turned its entire energy to contain the disease but the ground situation is that the disease marches unabated. India has already lost 534 (as of November 18, 2009) innocent lives to the virus and no one, including the health minister himself, would hazard a guess as to when would the disease be controlled.

India had 15, 926 HINI victims as of November 18, 2009, with Delhi (3900 confirmed cases), Maharashtra (3838 confirmed cases) and Tamil Nadu (1735 confirmed cases) as the top three states under the virulent attack of the virus. In terms of deaths, out of a total of 534, Maharashtra led with 214 deaths. It may be recalled that Pune was caught into the virus panic with first lot of deaths coming from the hi-tech city itself.

Health ministry officials say they are monitoring the situation and have already taken a series of measures to mitigate the situation but do admit that a lot needs to be done. The big step the ministry took was to allow private laboratories as well to conduct the tests thereby reducing the panic and subsequent pressure on staterun hospitals, generally under stress always.

There is no clarity yet on the vaccine development for the deadly disease. Several Indian companies have shown interest but nothing concrete has yet been done.

Indian pharma majors including Zydus Group, Bharat Biotech, Panacea Biotech and Serum Institute of India are entities working on development of the vaccine.

To prevent infection one can practice preventive measures, which are:

  • Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and have fever and cough
  • If contact is unavoidable, wash hands with soap and water thoroughly and often
  • Practise good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.


If caring for an ill person at home take following precautions:

  • By separating the ill person from others, keeping the person at least one metre in distance from others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when caring for the ill person. Either commercial or homemade materials are fine, as long as they are disposed of or cleaned properly after use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly after each contact with the ill person.
  • Improve the air flow where the ill person stays. Use doors and windows to take advantage of breezes.
  • Keep the environment clean with readily available household cleaning agents.


How to manage illness, if unwell, with high fever, cough or sore throat:

  • Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds.
  • Rest and take plenty of fluids.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing, and dispose of the used tissues properly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Inform family and friends about your illness and try to avoid contact with other people.


Emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention

In children these include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin colour
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough


In adults these are:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomitting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

By Dr Vandana Sood

The Gujarat-based another pharma major Cadila Pharmaceuticals, is also developing a swine flu vaccine with US collaboration, is using an advanced technology belongs to Gujarat. Among the multinationals, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Novartis, Baxter International and Sanofi-Aventis had applied for a test license to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for carrying out clinical trials in India for their version of the swine flu vaccines.

Earlier this year, swine flu was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which feared that around two billion people might get affected. Globally, the H1N1 vaccine market is estimated to grow beyond $7 billion in next two years from $676 million as of now. The Indian government, earlier this year, mandated three Indian vaccine-makers—Serum Institute of India Ltd, Bharat Biotech and Panacea Biotec—to develop the swine flu vaccine on a war footing. However, their research is yet to reach any significant stage.

By K Anjna

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