First confirmed A(H1N1) flu case in the country

HYDERABAD: The country’s first case of influenza A(H1N1) flu virus was confirmed on Saturday when a 23-year-old male, who came to Hyderabad from New York on May 13, tested positive. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), New Delhi, has found evidence of H1N1 strain in the patient’s nasal, throat secretions, swabs and blood samples.

On Saturday, the doctors of Government General and Chest Hospital, Erragadda, where the passenger is quarantined, were informed about the positive tests by NICD officials after National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune also found evidence of the presence of H1N1 strain.

The passenger, a student of Indiana University, Bloomington, reached Hyderabad on May 13 from New York via Dubai in an Emirates Flight (EK524).

The authorities informed that the patient’s co-passengers in the flight have already been contacted and would be screened soon for necessary H1N1 strain tests.

The patient is from Hyderabad and authorities have already counselled his family members.

“We have started him on an anti-viral drug Oseltamivir and Tamiflu. He is stable and we have taken his chest X-ray. His temperature is normal. Owing to positive results, we have extended his isolation further,” informed Dr. K. Subhakar of Chest Hospital.

In all, since April 29, the hospital has received 11 patients with suspected influenza A (H1N1) flu virus symptoms out of which 10 tested negative.

The H1N1 strain positive patient was screened by the medical team stationed at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad. Every day, on an average, the airport receives nearly 2,500 patients from 18 international flights.

“The treatment is based on symptoms. The patient is properly isolated and all necessary precautions, according to WHO standards, have been taken. There’s no need to panic because the patient is isolated,” assured Dr. Subhakar.

To enable the hospital doctors contact NICD authorities for guidance during emergencies, the hospital now has a hotline link with NICD. The State health authorities have informed that co-passengers, sitting three rows ahead and behind, are being contacted for screening.

Already nearly 15 co-passengers have been identified and contacted. The district health authorities would be visiting their houses and screening the families, authorities informed.

Aarti Dhar reports from New Delhi:

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has also appealed to all passengers who travelled in EK-524 reaching Hyderabad on May 13 to self monitor for influenza-like illness including fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing, and to provide their contact details to the government on toll free number 1075 or 1800114377 or to the Outbreak Monitoring Cell of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases at 011-23921401 or the Health Department of the Andhra Pradesh government on 040-23814939 to enable the public health authorities to monitor their health status.

So far, 36 countries have officially reported 8,451 confirmed cases of A-H1N1 influenza including 66 deaths.

The U.S. has reported 4,714 confirmed cases including four deaths while Canada reported 496 confirmed human cases including one death. One death has also been reported from Costa Rica and eight confirmed cases of flu.

Seek medical care

The World Health Organisation while not recommending travel restrictions following the outbreak of the influenza virus has, however, said individuals who were ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care.

These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases, including influenza.

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