As many as 285 cases recorded till now in Mumbai; there were only three cases for corresponding period last year; new symptoms like high fever, loose motions have doctors worried
Kids, pregnant women, senior citizens and patients with heart diseases are particularly at risk. File pics for representation
It was a feverish Friday in Mumbai, with as many as 18 cases of swine flu - a record high - registered in a single day. What has the city's doctors breaking into a sweat is also the host of new symptoms - high fever, loose motions - that patients are complaining of.
Doctors don't know what to make of this unseasonable outbreak of swine flu cases – normally, September-October is when people fall prey to the virus. This year, however, the bug has come several months early and seems to have become nearly 100 times stronger.
Last year, the city recorded all of three cases. This year, each day is bringing two new cases on average. So far, 285 positive cases of swine flu have already been recorded in Mumbai.
The thicker N95 mask is better suited to protect against swine flu
The swine flu virus, or H1N1, has been floating around since the beginning of the year, with 70 cases recorded between January and May. But the infection rate suddenly swung up this month, with 199 cases being recorded till June 22. And, although the spread of swine flu hasn't been declared an epidemic in the state, from Friday's explosion of cases, it's clear that the outbreak is nowhere close to slowing down.
"This is the highest number of new swine flu cases registered on a single day so far, this year. It is shocking that from an average of two cases per day, it suddenly rose to 18 cases on one day," said an officer from BMC's health department.
'Be extra cautious'
BMC officials advise Mumbaikars to be extra careful, as swine flu can be confused with viral fever, which can delay the right treatment and increase the chances of a fatal infection. Children, pregnant women, senior citizens and patients with heart diseases are at particular risk.
"We would request people not to neglect any symptoms of swine flu. If they have fever or body pain, they should immediately visit the nearest hospital. Moreover, until they recover completely, they should avoid going to public places," said Dr Padmaja Keshkar, head of the BMC's health department.
Considering the change in the pattern of the outbreak, not to mention the worsening of symptoms, doctors suspect that the virus might have mutated. "We are shocked by the change in the pattern of the virus. We have never received patients with such high fever; nowadays, we are getting many patients with high fever that goes up to 104 degrees, along with loose motions. It is taking at least 48 hours for the patient to respond to medicines. This has confused medical practitioners," said Dr Vasant Nagvekar, infectious diseases expert, Global Hospitals.
He added, "Also, this year, swine flu cases have started early, and there has been a huge outbreak."
Another expert, Dr Om Srivastava told this reporter, "The virus' response to drugs and its detection have both changed. Patients would start improving within 4-5 days earlier, but now even that is taking longer. But we cannot confirm whether this is due to a change in virus until further research is done."
Fever, cough, sore throat, chills, weakness, body ache
Patients displaying symptoms of swine flu can ask for a throat swab to confirm the virus. The test costs R6-7,000 and results are available in 24 hours.
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