Some indigenous cases also have been reported in Coimbatore

Public health officials here have called for extreme vigil against the highly contagious A (H1N1) influenza, following the death of a bank official in the city on Tuesday.

While there is no need to panic over the situation, symptoms among the public have to be closely looked for because Coimbatore has reported a couple of indigenous cases, Deputy Director of Health Services S. Senthilkumar said on Wednesday.

Throughout the occurrence last year and for a good part of this year, the health authorities had maintained that the cases reported in and around the city were only imported ones. They had contracted the flu virus during travel abroad or elsewhere within the country, including Chennai and Kerala.

But, the last week of August saw two cases with no history of travel or contact with flu patients who contracted the virus during travel. Health officials concluded that the virus was in the local community. However, with less number of serious cases being reported this year, the officials felt that many people had become immune to the problem.

The World Health Organisation declared last month that the influenza was not a pandemic anymore. Coimbatore itself was reporting only sporadic cases. Therefore, people need not panic. But, the vigil could continue as a couple of indigenous cases surfaced late last month.

The health department wanted diabetics, pregnant women and those taking immuno suppressants to keep away from people who had cough, throat pain, runny nose and fever which were symptoms of the flu.

“This is the season of various types of flu. If someone has cold and fever it is better to confine to bed. If these persist, it will be wise to consult a doctor. People should not go in for over-the-counter drugs. The general physician should think of A (H1N1) influenza if the symptoms do not subside,” Dr. Senthilkumar said. The patients will have to be referred to the Coimbatore Medical College's isolation ward.

The CMCH had been provided with 750 doses of flu prevention vaccine for immunising its doctors and paramedical staff who would handle cases in the isolation ward. Another 380 doses had been provided to the office of the Joint Director of Health Services for distribution in the taluk and district hospitals.

As for the bank official who died early Tuesday here, Dr. Senthilkumar said he had pre-existing life-threatening complications owing to diabetes and kidney disorder. He was extremely vulnerable to the flu virus.

Health officials in the Coimbatore Corporation checked an apartment he visited briefly on August 31, on arrival from Chennai. They found no one in the flat, mentioned in the admission record at the private hospital. They had taken the body from the medical college hospital here to Chennai for cremation. The occupants of nearby flats said he left soon after checking in. No other cases with flu symptoms were found in the apartment. “After being informed by us, health officials of the Tiruvallur Health Unit District near Chennai went to the residence of the deceased at Ambattur. Members of his family, relatives and people in the neighbourhood were checked for symptoms,” Dr. Senthilkumar said.