A girl aged four-and-a-half was admitted to the isolation ward of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) on Thursday after she tested positive for A (H1N1) influenza. A 55-year-old man from the neighbouring Tirupur District is already undergoing treatment in the ward, while a 79-year-old man from that district died last Sunday of the flu at the CMCH.
Public health authorities, however, are not seeing any chance of an outbreak, despite three cases being reported in less than a week. They contend that the flu virus is already in the community owing to previous occurrences since 2009. Only sporadic cases is different groups will occur and not as a cluster.
The condition of the man and the girl is stable, the authorities said. Contact treatment – providing oseltamivir tablets to all those who were in close contact with the patients – is being done. Health authorities in Tirupur carried out this process with the relatives of the man who died of the flu and also the man undergoing treatment in Coimbatore. The authorities in Coimbatore identified the relatives and other close contacts of the girl’s family at Kovilpalayam and began treatment soon after the case was established as positive.
Deputy Director of Health Services, Coimbatore, S. Senthilkumar told The Hindu that the girl was an indigenous case. There was no history of contracting the flu virus during travel, or of someone in the family having contracted it during travel and passed it on to the child. This only indicates that the virus was very much in the community in Coimbatore. But, the health authorities said that every second person was immune to it because of the preventive and curative measures taken earlier. Only those with very low immunity – very young children or old persons, diabetics and renal transplant patients – ran the risk of contracting the virus from those sub-clinically positive (cases that did not show the symptoms, but could spread the virus). They pointed out that of the three positive cases so far, one was 79 years old and another was a young child. The 55-year-old man had severe asthma and was diabetic.
While the oseltamivir tablets (Tamiflu) were available, the health department was expecting vaccines to arrive soon for preventive effort.