Saturday, 13 June 2009

Swine flu: Human Influenza virus may mutate further, turn lethal in India

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 12: The swine flu virus has the potential to mutate further
and become a lethal virus, warn the Union Ministry of Health and Family
Welfare. "It is also not known how this virus or a further mutated strain
would behave in Indian population," it said.

In its draft action plan, following the WHO updation of swine flu pandemic
level from phase 5 to phase 6 on a scale of six, the Union Health Ministry is
of the view that containment may not be possible at this stage. "Only
mitigation measures are needed now," the ministry noted.

Fourteen of the 15 swine flu cases registered thus far in India have been
"import" cases and only one case was of secondary spread. "The behaviour of
this mutant virus among the Asian population cannot be predicted. The virus
has the potential to mutate further and become a lethal virus," the Health
Ministry warned on Friday.

In view of the latest WHO guidelines, the government has decided to
increase surveillance mechanism at community level, ports and airports and
border crossings to detect early clusters of influenza like illness or severe
acute respiratory illness. It has also taken up a virological surveillance to
detect the circulating strains and any new strain that enters the country or that
gets established within the country.

As of now, India has a stock of 10 million capsules of oseltamivir. Some
stocks are also committed by pharmaceutical companies for exclusive use by
the Government. This drug is only available through the public health system
and its retail sale is banned as indiscriminate use may lead to development of

The contacts of the positive cases in Delhi, Goa and Hyderabad are on
chemoprophylaxis and they are being monitored. As of now, no family or
social contacts has reported symptoms.

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This Day In History

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Someone with Nature

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Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity